It’s a wet, chilly morning on the Pinehills Golf Course in Plymouth, and Bourne simply took his first tee shot — Nicklaus Course, par-3, third gap. The divot and flying tee command as a lot consideration as his ball that tails off to the correct, and but Bourne cannot cease laughing and smiling.
He’s a happy-go-lucky persona who appears to have a real appreciation for what he has — his first massive NFL payday, a three-year, $15 million contract that could possibly be price as a lot as $22.5 million with New England, the place he’s anticipated to open coaching camp as one of many prime three receivers.
Bourne can be endlessly appreciative of the facility of mentorship. With out it, he surmises he by no means would have attended Japanese Washington College — or any school, for that matter. Thus, there could be no time within the NFL, the place he spent the primary 4 years of his profession from 2017 to 2020 with the San Francisco 49ers.
That is what brings Bourne to the soggy, glowing golf course, as he has partnered with Large Brothers Large Sisters of Japanese Massachusetts to function an honorary board member and quasi spokesperson. The nonprofit group was holding its annual golf event final Thursday — excellent timing because it got here on a time off in the course of the Patriots’ voluntary offseason practices.
One in every of Bourne’s major mentors was Don Johnson, his soccer coach at Milwaukie Academy of the Arts, a constitution faculty outdoors of Portland, Oregon.
“He was simply undoubtedly there at a main time in my life, the make-or-break time,” Bourne instructed ESPN.com. “Highschool days after I suppose I do know every part, suppose I’ve acquired all of it found out.”
Bourne, 25, grew up in part of Portland with a excessive charge of crime and prevalent gang exercise.
Johnson, who now serves as director of participant personnel for the College of Oregon soccer program, noticed his student-athlete heading down the improper path. When Bourne might have been on the soccer area engaged on his craft, Johnson would as a substitute see him on the native mall or Holladay Park, distinguishable by the Louis Vuitton bag in his grasp or sagging pants.
“He was an inner-city child who acquired with the improper crowd,” Johnson defined to ESPN.com. “He jogged my memory of Fowl within the  film ‘Wildcats.’ He may open his bag and have 10 totally different watches to promote you rather than a soccer and gloves in it. However when he put the bag down and wasn’t promoting something and got here on the sector, there wasn’t anybody that would guard him.”
Johnson took a no-nonsense strategy with Bourne.
“He actually simply helped me make the correct [decisions] — being in school, doing my work, being at apply on time,” Bourne mentioned. “I used to be sort of frightened of him, intimidated by him. I needed to do proper by him as a result of he was making an attempt to assist me, needed him to simply accept me. As I began to do higher and higher, he simply stored testing me.”
Johnson by no means let up.
“I revved it as much as 10 on him,” the coach mentioned. “He redirected his life. He went from being an actual road child who might have went the improper technique to the persona and the smile of each locker room he is ever been in.
“Seeing him now, it is a man who actually comes from it and actually understands. He grew up in elementary faculties and junior highs that had been predominantly Black. There was quite a lot of gang exercise and different issues like that, and Kendrick was by no means scared to be a part of the scene.
“He sort of had a ‘Keep in mind the Titans’ expertise in highschool with being on a really racially combined crew after coming from the inside metropolis. He is simply one of the best locker room man ever, has the most important coronary heart of any human I’ve ever met, actually cares. Kendrick might go to a rap live performance or a Garth Brooks live performance and have the identical enjoyable.”
Partly due to the function Johnson performed in his life, Bourne is now hoping to make use of his NFL platform to encourage mentoring matches, known as Bigs and Littles, all year long.
He figures it is also a pleasant means for the New England neighborhood to get to know him.
“I wish to begin my title proper,” Bourne mentioned. “I really feel like I am a superb mentor, with genuine tales I may also help the youth with, in order that’s the most important factor.”
His willingness to take action is welcome information to Mark O’Donnell, the president and CEO of Large Brothers Large Sisters of Japanese Massachusetts.
“Once I first spoke with Kendrick, it was, ‘Does this mission imply something to you?'” O’Donnell mentioned. “He mentioned, ‘Completely. I imagine on this and suppose everybody wants as many mentors of their life as attainable. Optimistic function fashions, and I wish to be a optimistic function mannequin on this neighborhood.’ He simply got here in wholeheartedly.”
Johnson is not shocked. He mentioned your entire Bourne household — mother Luica, dad Eric and brothers Andrew and Evan — all lead with their coronary heart, corresponding to opening their house to others in Portland.
“I would not anticipate something much less,” Johnson mentioned. “He is about retaining children away from the individual he was earlier than. He is about altering lives.
“He will love to decorate up and look one of the best, and have enjoyable and smile, however on the identical time, he’d give the shirt off his again for somebody who’s homeless or had a nasty scenario. My purpose was to make a person out of him, and he is greater than a person now. It is loopy how a lot he has grown, not solely as a fantastic individual, however as a fantastic father, and a fantastic neighborhood chief.”