Where did the baby name Kawhi come from?

The unusual name Kawhi debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 2013 and has been on the rise ever since.

  • 2016: 42 baby boys named Kawhi
  • 2015: 12 baby boys named Kawhi
  • 2014: 25 baby boys named Kawhi
  • 2013: 7 baby boys named Kawhi [debut]
  • 2012: unlisted
  • 2011: unlisted

What put this name on the map?

Professional basketball player Kawhi (pronounced kah-WAI) Leonard, who has had a successful career playing for several NBA teams: the San Antonio Spurs (2011-2018), the Toronto Raptors (2018-2019), and currently the LA Clippers. So far he’s won two NBA championships (2014 & 2019) and, both times, he was named Finals MVP.

Where did his name come from?

Kawhi Leonard told ESPN that his late father, Mark, “said he wanted something that sounded Hawaiian” for his son’s name. (Kawhi, the youngest in the family, has four older sisters.) So the name “Kawhi” is a take on the name of the Hawaiian island Kauai (which is most properly pronounced with three syllables: kuh-WAI-ee).

What are your thoughts on the name Kawhi? (Do you like it more or less than the name Kauai?)

Source: Kawhi Leonard – Wikipedia, Kawhi Leonard’s quiet drive – ESPN

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