Call Me Kwamie
I play starting wide receiver for the University of Kansas Jayhawks. Rock Chalk!
I used to go by KJ. Not anymore.
Truth. I’m named after my father.
Early on, growing up in Chandler, Arizona, it was easier for my parents to call me KJ. There was only about enough room in the house for just one big Kwamie.
Not trying to say I’m bigger now than my Pops. He played here at KU, too. He helped us win the Aloha Bowl in 1992. He went on to play in the NFL. He played eight seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. In the last regular season game in1998, against the San Diego Chargers, he tied the NFL record with four interceptions! We won and got to go to the playoffs for the first time since 1982. My father was a Pro Bowler free safety. He later played a year with the Chargers and a season with the St. Louis Rams.
That was my “Pops.” Big shoes. I'm not trying to fill them, but I am trying to honor him. I’ve got my own path. See, he played defense. I play offense. Right now, though, I am playing on the same grass he did. He died early last year.
Call me Kwamie,
because I'm paying tribute to the man.
After I graduate at the end of this year, I'm going to play for the NFL. Just like he did.
After KU, he did not get picked up in the 1995 NFL draft. That didn’t stop him. He was all about goals and accomplishments. That summer he made the Cardinals' team as a free agent.
Off the field, he was the same way. My father was all about goals and accomplishments, about doing your best, being a professional.
He and my mother, Ericka, the “Queen"—that’s what my five brothers and two sisters call her—started the Kwamie Lassiter Foundation together. The foundation helps families with youth health concerns like sickle cell anemia, which I had growing up.
Mom hasn’t stopped. She's president of Off The Field right now. It's the national organization for the wives of NFL players, current and past.
So, our family is all about football. I love the game. Been playing since sixth grade. I play for more than the game, though. I play for my family. For my teammates, the coaches, too. And for all the KU fans, students and alumni.
After this season, I will miss KU. I won’t miss the cold Kansas winters, though. I'm going to some place warm right away to start training for the NFL.
Am I nervous? No. Never nervous. Always be ready, just like Pops taught me.
Sure, this year is different because of COVID-19. But we still get to play. And hey, KU, I know we're starting slow. But stay with us. The season has barely started.
Stay focused. Stay healthy. Be safe. Be strong. Call me Kwamie.