The Adelphi graduate has reached new heights with his motivational book.
Anyone familiar with the rise of Ben Kenyon ’06, from Adelphi University basketball player to successful coach in the National Basketball Association while overcoming a serious health challenge, would be moved to say, “You should write a book.”
Well, now he has. In Climb: 14 Proven Steps for Emerging Leaders to Grow and Achieve, Kenyon, in his fourth year as director of performance for the Philadelphia 76ers, intersperses the personal and the professional in a step-by-step guide to help people develop a plan to achieve their goals.
Kenyon and his staff design individual workouts for the 76ers’ 15 players to help them withstand the rigors of an 82-game schedule that stretches from October to April and the expected playoff run that could have them playing well into June.
His job involves more than expertise in strength and conditioning techniques. It also requires the motivational skills to get athletes such as center Joel Embiid, the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player, and guard Tyrese Maxey to push even harder to achieve more this season.
“I’ve been able to have a lot of success in my life, and I wanted my nieces and nephews to understand the steps that they have to take to have consistent success as well,” Kenyon said. “They were actually the catalysts for this book.”
Kenyon’s climb began as a Panthers guard/forward. After graduate school, he went to University of Florida as an unpaid intern, then back to George Washington University as the school’s head strength and conditioning coach. He rose to eventually become the assistant athletic director. After that, he spent seven years as strength and conditioning coach for the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and then moved back to the East Coast for his current role with the 76ers. He focuses on improving the performance of elite athletes such as Embiid and Maxey.
“It’s a blessing to work with all these amazing athletes who are playing at the highest level,” Kenyon said. “I work with them on their stability, mobility, flexibility. If I can keep those players healthy and available, especially for the playoffs, availability is everything.”
In Climb, Kenyon acknowledges those who helped him rise, including his grandfathers, both of whom were ministers, and the Adelphi community. He is particularly grateful to Maggie Yoon Grafer ’98, MA ’08, Adelphi’s associate vice president for external relations and University advancement. They met while he pursued his bachelor’s in sport management, and she worked toward her master’s in the same major.
“Her guidance and mentorship helped me so much as a young, up-and-coming leader,” he said. “Some habits I had back then, I was able to let them go. I thank Maggie and the Adelphi community in general for helping me navigate my way through college. I would say Adelphi set me up for major success because of the resources they provided along the way.”
Motivation After Adversity
In 2019, Kenyon survived a major scare—he learned about his heart aneurysm after a trip to the doctor.
“It floored me and put me in a funky place, mentally and physically,” he said. “I had to rewrite my own routine. I learned that I had to do things differently.”
As he transitioned back to his normal routine, Kenyon began posting motivational messages on his social media pages that included the line, “It’s a great day for a run.” The messages resonated with so many followers that he created the Great Day Squad, which features a running community on Strava. Currently, there are more than 3,000 members.
In Climb, Kenyon builds on the themes in his social media postings. The book is divided into three sections: foundation, growth and achievement. His ultimate goal is to impact lives around the world, including on the court too. Kenyon hopes his passion will help lead the 76ers to win a championship for the first time since 1983.