Kenny Hampton used to sulk on the front porch of his childhood home in Michigan while watching his friends running off to football practice, a sport that Hampton’s parents were attempting to keep him from for his own good.
“When I was a kid, I was a pretty small guy,” Hampton says. “My parents tried to steer me in the direction of baseball to keep me from getting injured. I always wanted to play [football], but I had to sit it out.”
Through high school, Hampton played basketball and excelled at baseball, enough to earn him a full scholarship to Eastern Kentucky University. Unfortunately, after four years of playing center field well enough to be scouted by the San Diego Padres, a shoulder injury requiring surgery forced Hampton to weigh his options, and football became a part of the equation.
“I always watched the football team practice and even worked out with them while in college. It was something I still really wanted to get into,” Hampton says. “I decided to make the switch to wide receiver, and it worked out pretty well for me.”
In his brief college football career at Eastern Kentucky University, Hampton proved he had raw talent at the position, despite his lack of experience. He made several huge plays that contributed to the school’s most successful season and peaked the interest of NFL scouts.
Hampton’s long and winding career in athletics has finally brought him to football, and his job for next season will be catching touchdown passes for the Columbus Aces, a new arena football team that will play at the fairgrounds. Despite his setbacks, Hampton has never lost sight of his goal as a professional athlete.
“Most people would give up after a lot of the things I’ve had to face,” Hampton says. “But not me. I’m going to be a professional athlete somewhere, someday soon.”