Baltimore family’s second generation follows in elders’ footsteps as McCormick Unsung Hero honorees


by Nelson Coffin

The Battle family of Baltimore knows what it’s like to be nominated for the McCormick Unsung Hero Award.

Attending the awards banquet that has been a Charm City institution since 1940 has become almost commonplace for the Battles, who were the first family to have two members nominated in the same year when Cameron Battle (Lake Clifton Eastern High School) and his brother Brian (Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School) were honored in 1995.

Although neither brother — nor anyone else in the family — has won on of the Unsung Hero scholarship awards, just being nominated speaks for itself, considering the criteria that the Hunt Valley-based spice company demands of its nominees.

Nominees are male and female high school seniors “who have been models of sportsmanship and team spirit,” according to the McCormick & Co. website, for athletes “who display such character traits as good sportsmanship, dedication, integrity and positive attitude.”

Showing the true spirit of the award, Cameron and Brian’s sister, Misty, was nominated in 1998 only to decline the honor because she felt that her family had already been nominated.

“She turned it down because she wanted another family to have the experience that our family already had,” Cameron said proudly, noting that his sister was amply rewarded for her unselfishness when Lake Clifton feted her at a banquet at the school.

The Battles began a second generation of McCormick Unsung Hero nominees when John (Baltimore City College High School) was selected to represent the Black Knights at the banquet.

Younger brother Kairon became the fifth member of the family to be tabbed when he was nominated for the award this spring.

The 6-foot-1, 318-pound former Overlea High School two-way lineman is currently playing for the ASA College team in Miami.

There are others Battles, according to Cameron, that have the potential to expand the family’s McCormick hardware, including younger brother Kristopher (9th grade), sister Kayden (7th grade), cousins Kai (4th grade, son of Misty) and William (1st grade, son of Brian). And don’t overlook two-year old Jace, John’s son.

Perhaps the most unsung of the Battles was was never nominated for any award, but Keith Battle nonetheless is a hero for his service locating, deactivating and destroying explosive devices as a sergeant in the Army.

All of the exploits were based on the foundation begun by Viet Nam vet William Battle (grandfather) and Janice Battle (grandmother), who made sure that their kids learned to respect all, fear none.

They are the reason why Cameron, a sergeant in the Baltimore Police Department working double shifts, stayed out of trouble while growing up in East Baltimore.

“I didn’t get involved with any of that stuff that was going on in the neighborhood,” Cameron said. “I guess it’s a bad thing today, but a lot of people said we were like the Huxtables. Our family structure gave us the right way to act because that’s what we did at home.”

Pictured above: Cameron (left) of Lake Clifton and Brian Battle (Mervo) became the first siblings to be honored as McCormick Unsung Hero nominees when they were both recognized in 1995. Since, three additional family members, including Cameron’s son Kairon (center) of Overlea High School, in 2018, have been honored. At May’s Unsung Hero awards banquet all three showed off their hardware.