Updated: Jul 16, 2021
NFL retired player, Reggie “Reverend” Kelly
Modern Day Prophet Calls Forth the Best in Others and Himself
Reggie Kelly embraces every setback with boundless determination, grace and grit. He is a man of God who calls forth the best in everyone he meets.
Reggie, a fourteen-year veteran, was on injured reserve for the 2009 season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. But even on the sidelines, he made a significant contribution to his team by mentoring younger players and setting himself up as a role model.
Reggie, called “Reverend” by his teammates, grew up in Aberdeen, Mississippi, population 6,000. He was raised by loving yet strict Christian parents. When he gave his life to Christ as a young boy he was concerned what other kids would think. Reggie said, “I decided to put Christ on the back burner, all for the sake of popularity. By the time I got to high school I did whatever I could to fit in and this included partying and drinking. I wanted to be the ‘big dog.’ I actually believed I was really cool.”
What he didn’t realize was that he wasn’t being true to who he really was. This created emptiness inside. He wasn’t ready to face that so he partied even harder instead.
When he got to college at Mississippi State, he felt like a fish out of water. No one knew who he was and he decided he was going to get back on top fast. His partying intensified and soon he was once again known as the “big dog.” But the emptiness didn’t go away.
By the time Reggie was a sophomore, he was exhausted from trying to please everyone and trying to prove how cool he was. He decided to give Jesus a try.
Reggie remembers the day he began to talk to Jesus. “I was sitting in my college dorm room . . . alone with the Lord. As soon as I spoke to Him, He answered me with words that still send chills down my spine. He said, ‘You can have all the fortune, you can have all the fame, you can be the most popular kid in the world if you so desire. But if you don’t have me in your heart, then there is always going to be an emptiness.’
When he rededicated his life to Jesus, it changed him spiritually, mentally and physically. He said, “I do everything for the Lord and because of that I have success in everything I am involved in. I stopped playing football so the crowd would cheer for me. I began to play football to please the Lord and this enhanced my ability.”
His grades went up and he made the SEC honor roll for three straight years. He was drafted in the second round by the Atlanta Falcons.
“In my rookie year in Atlanta, the great fullback Bob Christian took me under his wing. He was a man of God and was well respected by everyone. He decided that he was going to teach me how to be a pro. He also was going to teach me how to be a man of God and apply it to football.
“Bob’s example helped me realize that God placed me on earth to encourage everyone to be the best they can be.”
A good example came when Reggie was injured in training camp. In 10 seasons, he had suffered only one other injury and missed just four games. He was sure he’d bounce back this time, too, and was “heartbroken” when he learned he would be out for the season. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, he decided to figure out how he could still help the team. So he concentrated on helping the younger players by becoming a role model for how to handle adversity.
Reggie believes that God gave him the NFL platform to have a positive impact on kids. He helps them realize that they can achieve anything they desire regardless of their situation. He says, “Life isn’t always fair, but whatever hand you’re dealt, just play it.”
Reggie loves to encourage kids to grow and become productive. He shows kids how to approach all setbacks knowing that great things will come to them if they are willing to learn and grow each time. He teaches them the importance of building inner strength and explains the countless benefits of being resilient.
Reggie treats kids with enormous respect. He lets them know that we need them to be as productive as they can be because it won’t be long before they are leading our country and the world. Reggie’s genuine passion is contagious and he infects kids with a burning desire to become the best young men or young ladies they can be.
“One thing that I also would like to stress is the importance of being unique. You don’t have to be like the next person. Just because this is the way the in-crowd does it, you can go against the grain and still be a success. You can be different, you can be unique; this is what this world needs.
“A lot of time when you follow the in-crowd it’s going to lead to some form of destruction. It worked that way for me. I was trying to be like everybody else because being accepted meant everything to me … it ran my life and it was exhausting! I finally figured it out that I didn’t have to be like everybody else, that I’ve got my own style. If you have your own flavor and you maximize your own uniqueness, MAN! There are all kinds of possibilities out there for you. I think that’s the way that God wants it. He made each of us different. He gave all of us different gifts and different talents. You are here to maximize your talents and create a life that dreams are made of.
Reggie is the author of a very inspiring book, PREPARED: Using the Gridiron’s Boundaries to reach your limitless potential . He has also created KYVAN a delicious assortment of salsa, sauces and seasonings. To lean more visit http://www.reggiekelly82.com/home.html
Reggie is married to his high school sweetheart, Sheila. They have two children – daughter Kyla, and son, Kavan.
Reggie is an Insightful Player® team member who is spiritually rich and inspires the same in others. He casts a warm and lasting glow inside the hearts of everyone he meets. He is the exact kind of role model our world yearns for. We could all learn a lot from Reggie.
Instant replay of Reggie’s guiding principles:
Look for opportunities with every setback rather than in spite of them.
Let go of trying to impress others.
Be unique by honoring your talents and gifts.
Be a leader by always setting an example.
Believe you can achieve your dreams regardless of your situation.
Always treat everyone with respect.
Turn your life over to God.
Commit to learning as a life-long process.
Offer your support and share lessons learned with others.
The Insightful Player® series is brought to you by Coach Chrissy Carew, Hall of Fame Master Certified Personal and Business Coach and Author of her newly released book, INSIGHTFUL PLAYER: Football Pros Lead A Bold Movement of Hope. Chrissy has been deeply inspired by her father, the late Coach Walter Carew, Sr. Her father is in several Halls of Fame as a high school football coach and baseball coach (as well as high school and college athlete). He used sports to help kids build strong character and teach them valuable life skills. The Insightful Player® initiative was created to help make our world a much better place by inspiring youth. To contact Chrissy Carew visit http://www.insightfulplayer.com or call 603-897-0610.
©2009 Insightful Player, LLC
Reggie Kelly is a valued member of the Insightful Player® team. To be named to this team, one must be a person of integrity, such as a current or former NFL player, who shares their personal message of hope for the sole purpose of lifting the spirits of all, especially children.