Taylor native and 'World's Fastest Man' Fred Kerley honored with hometown mural
Fred Kerley said only one thing was going through his mind last July when he crossed the 100-meter finish line at the 2022 World Athletic Championship in Eugene, Ore.: "I got it. I got the gold."
Now, that moment has been immortalized in a mural in Kerley's hometown of Taylor.
Taylor artist Adam Davenport painted the mural, which features a rendering of Kerley running the race.
Both men were at the mural dedication ceremony Saturday — along with more than 200 spectators, according to city spokesperson Stacey Osborne.
Glancing at the storage tank where the mural was placed, Kerley said, "I know that exact picture — when I crossed the line and I started cheesin' and I said, 'I got me one.'"
It took fewer than 10 seconds for Kerley to earn the title of "World’s Fastest Man" : 9.86 seconds to be exact — making him the sixth fastest man to have ever run the 100-meter race.
Still, Kerley described his beginnings in Taylor as "humble."
"You gotta start somewhere," he said, sporting a black T-shirt that read, "To all the teachers that told me I'd never amount to nothin'" in all caps.
Taylor Independent School District Trustee Shorty Mitchell mentioned the T-shirt to the crowd gathered for the ceremony.
"He wearing a shirt today ... that embodies how he felt sometimes in Taylor ISD," he said. "[He] felt like some teachers felt he was gonna be nobody. Some teachers thought he couldn't learn.
"And that is something for us to work on moving forward," Mitchell said to applause.
Kerley graduated from Taylor High School before attending South Plains College and later, Texas A&M University.
When reporters asked about the T-shirt, Kerley said, "It's deeper than what people see."
"Most everybody in life been doubted, right? My message is keep on," he said. "The people that doubted me, now they see all the blessings and stuff coming to me. ... My talent and my work ethic is speaking for itself now. And I've still got a long ways to go."
The Taylor City Council approved the project in October and Davenport completed it last month. The city spent $47,000 for the work.
Davenport said he hopes his artwork will inspire others in the community to pursue their own dreams.
"I would like the Fred Kerley mural not to only be a mural, but a monument that embodies the spirit and persistence that it takes for any of us to achieve our dreams and goals that we strive to reach — whatever they may be," he said.