Memphis dads honored for their hard work at home and in the community

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis is said to have some of the highest rates of homes without fathers.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported in some neighborhoods nearly nine out of ten homes don't have dads.

"I grew up in the inner city. My father was killed when I was very young. Maybe ten or twelve-years-old," said Kevin Rayford. "I grew up in life without a father and without any structure in my life."

Soon after, Rayford said he was in and out of juvenile detention centers until he wound up in federal prison twice.

"My second time in prison, it's like the light popped on. It was like if I don't make a change in my life, my kids are going to fall in the same foot steps I did," he said.

Across the country and across all races, 24 million households are said to be without a father.

Memphis was no exception.

What was even more troubling, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported girls without fathers were more likely to get pregnant as teens, and boys were twenty times more likely to end up in prison.

"I knew what I needed as a kid. I needed a father figure. I needed guidance," said Rayford.

Rayford vowed to be a good dad, a support system and role model for his children.

He also started mentoring troubled teens who are headed down the path he was once on.

Friday, the City of Memphis recognized Rayford and several other dads for being active and influential role models at home and in the community.

Those honored included: City Leadership Executive Director John Carroll, Soul Director Ken Bennett, Whitehaven High football Coach Rodney Saulsberry, Mayor A C Wharton and First Baptist Church -Broad Pastor Keith Norman.

"It's more than fathers. It's father figures. That's what this is about," said Mayor A C Wharton.

Rayford hoped his story inspires others to get involved.

"A lot of them just don't have the right guidance and direction, and we need more men to step up!" he said.

The city is hosting its 5th annual Memphis Training Camp for Dads on Saturday, June 20 at For the Kingdom Camp and Retreat from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Dads will get action-packed workshops that involve zip-lining, rock-climbing and completing an obstacle course, as well as parenting workshops.

It's free to the public.

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