Born and raised in family dysfunction, Anthony Kelley knew early on in his youth that he needed an outlet and escape from things he had no power to change. In the flee from negativity, he found a place of peace on the football field.
This lead him on a journey of self and the realization that he was capable of so much more than passing or running a ball; academically, personally and professionally. In 1988, the University of Washington became the bridge that allowed him to cross over from the field into the world.
Kelley was like the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz who realized he had a brain and all he needed to do was empower and utilize it. Kelley later received accreditation and awards for his academic excellence and leader ship skills.
He discovered true enlightenment when he traveled to South Africa to study abroad. It was there that he became acquainted with his identity and ethnicity. South Africa became a place of rebirth and an awakening.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Kelley where he chatted more on his journey. Check out the interview below:
Christy Angelette: Can you tell myself and the readers about yourself?
Anthony Kelley: I’m not a former NFL player. I was an athlete and I have evolved into someone greater, introducing the world to a new kind of me.
Christy: Growing up and still to this day, who are your role models? How did they impact your life?
Anthony: My mom for her strength, resilience and unconditional love.
Christy: Since a young child you witnessed domestic violence in your home, what is your earliest memories of this and thoughts?
Anthony: I witnessed domestic violence all throughout childhood. This impacted my relationships with women. I overcompensated to make sure I didn’t inflict that same kind of pain. Seeing an unhealthy relationship affected my relational communication skills and the knowledge of what I wanted and need from one.
Christy: What initial growth and changes were made in you to go from an academically struggling high school student living in the streets to excelling at football at football and academics at the University of Washington?
Anthony: Developing relationships with people that encouraged and motivated me academically, and having the drive, will, want and ambition to succeed beyond the field of football were the changes that I excelled at. As far as excelling in football, that all came naturally.
Christy: What mental and spiritual breakthrough in Africa did you have to make the decision to walk away from a potentially long successful football career?
Anthony: I never had an intense passion for football. It was a necessary escape in the beginning and the only option I had. After watching a fellow friend and player die as the result of an injury on the field, it was then when I decided on inside before I verbalized that this [football] was not worth me losing my life.
Studying abroad in South Africa and seeing the division of our people and between the races awoke a consciousness in me. I was not seen as a Black man with dreads, but associated with a prestigious status and wealth.
It was there and in America, that I began to see that our diversity is killing us. There lies distinct identity issues among us and our government seeks to divide us.
The experiences of service to the communities within the country and bringing together the youth inspired significant changes in my life and way of thinking. It was then and there that I realized the impact I could have not just there, but as a humanitarian of the people and the poor.
Christy: Now that your documentary is complete and trailer is released when can we expect to see it in its entirety?
Anthony: The release is set to go no later than November 7, 2018. This documentary is compilation of my important relationships and how they impacted my way of life and formed my integrity.
Christy: What advice would you give to young athletes starting out, discovering themselves and coming towards a cross road in their life as you had?
Anthony: To ask themselves why they are doing what they are doing and to “bust their ass” working toward the goals academically, as well as in the sport that they play.
Kelley stated as he continues his journey in life he consistently looks at himself as a person and a man. Through meditation, mindfulness and yoga he maintains his health, peace, positivity and the guidance he seeks.
Follow Anthony Kelley