Kirksey named Texans’ Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee

Mandatory Credit: Photo by David Zalubowski/AP/Shutterstock (13400614an) Houston Texans linebacker Christian Kirksey (58) intercepts a ball intended for Denver Broncos wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland (16) during the second half of an NFL football game, in Denver Texans Broncos Football, Denver, United States – 18 Sep 2022

Kirksey named Texans’ Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee

Houston Texans linebacker Christian Kirksey was nominated by the team for the prestigious philanthropy award.

On Tuesday, Houston Texans linebacker Christian Kirksey met the media to discuss his being the team’s nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the year award. Kirksey stressed how important it is for him to be a role model in the community:

“Truly, I have a lot of my teammates that go out in the community and do such a great job that, in my opinion, could be nominated as well. I appreciate that the organization nominated me for it. I think that comes with being a football player. I know a lot of people see us on Sunday playing a game that we love, making plays, making tackles, touchdowns, and all that stuff, but most importantly, it’s the people that are looking up to you. That you might be a kid’s role model. You’ve got to go out and help those that are in need. That’s our responsibility as football players. Not only just to play on Sunday but to go out in our communities and be that hero for everybody. That’s my philosophy on what it means to be in the community and to actually be present there.”

Kirksey stated he enjoys philanthropic work and that it has always been important to him:

“We’ve all been kids before or have been in a position where we may need help. Being somebody’s favorite athlete, how cool would it be to actually see them in your community? You actually see them getting their hands dirty and helping out wherever the need be. I think that’s pretty cool in my opinion, and like I said, there are a bunch of great guys in that locker room that do that day in and day out. Some stuff goes unnoticed, but guys are always, always helping out. I just think that’s the philosophy for our whole team. I think Morgan (Kleinschmidt, Senior Manager of Team Impact) does a good job of getting guys together to go on community trips. Guys are always bringing up ideas to go to this community or go help this organization. It’s a team effort. I just happened to be the one that got nominated. A lot of my teammates do some of the same things I do, so I think it’s just trying to make everybody better and trying to think about somebody else other than yourself. Like I said, myself and my teammates do the same thing when it comes to that.”

He was both surprised and honored when he found out the team nominated him:

“There’s a video that got my reaction. Man, I was surprised. I didn’t think I was up for being a nominee. I found out a couple of weeks ago. My family was all there to support. I thought that I was going to another community event, and the next thing you know, I see this huge picture of myself when I was in high school. I was like, ‘Why is there a picture of me in high school?’ Then I look over, and I see my whole family. I was speechless for a while. It’s just truly an honor.”

Kirksey discussed his upbringing as the son of a pastor and his family’s commitment to community service, and how it was special for him to make his family proud with his nomination:

“It was cool. My mom was super proud. What we’ve been through as a family and my dad, who is no longer living, the things that he’s instilled in me, and what we’ve accomplished. From me making it to the NFL but also me lending a helping hand. That’s what I was raised upon. My dad was a pastor, so I always saw him work with people, take his time to really hear somebody out, or help when they need help. As a young kid, just seeing that, I mean that, inspired me. My mom, my fiancée, my kids, we all just sat down and were soaking it all in. There’s more work to be done, so it was a good time to enjoy my family, a good time to enjoy with the owners and everyone. It was a good day for us.”

Kirksey has developed a fondness for Houston over the past two seasons:

“Houston is a special place. The organization does a great job of making sure they’re in the community doing work and not just talking about it or saying they’re going to do something just to say they did it. It’s more so that the people here really care, and I’m glad to be a part of that. Like I said, my teammates are always coming up with different ideas of different initiatives or different organizations and groups to help out. I think that we built something special here, and I think we have the right people in the building to where we are professional athletes, but we are also good people. When you build a team around that, you’re going to have guys in the community all the time. That just comes with it. I chose to come back, and that’s one of the reasons why, because I see the type of things that we’re doing, and I see the type of men that we have in this locker room. Like I said, it’s not just me that’s deserving of this award. I can name a bunch of people that could be standing here in my place now. It just happened to be me.”

Kirksey reflected on his visit to Uvalde and what it meant for him:

“That’s an experience that I will forever be grateful to have the opportunity to make that trip. Roland (Ramirez), our head trainer, that’s home for him. So, to be able to experience that, I always tell him thank you for allowing me to go back to his hometown in such a vital part of these young men’s lives that were part of that football team I got a chance to meet. It was one of those experiences where it’s very humbling. It’s one of those things where you have to be there to really understand it and really feel what was going on. I’m just appreciative that I was able to go and be somewhat of a mentor to the guys. I can’t imagine being in that situation where something as bad as that happened. I’m a parent myself, and when you have kids that are involved, I can’t imagine being a parent and having to pick up a phone call or go to the school and not have your kid there by your side. It’s something I can’t imagine. I was just taking it all in and being wherever I needed to be for them. It was definitely a humbling experience.”

Kirksey admitted his visit to Uvalde made a permanent connection with him and the people there:

“I’ll continue the relationship with just reaching out when I can or letting them understand that I know what it feels like to lose someone. Obviously, not to that degree, but I lost my father when I was 17, around the same age as those kids, so I can relate in the loss. I didn’t lose it to violence, but loss is loss. So I can be there for them and let them know that it does get better. There are better days ahead. But it is OK to have your emotions come out, and it’s OK to not understand your emotions. For me, I just want to be a role model where they can sit and be real with me and talk to me about whatever they’re feeling because I’ve been in their shoes with taking a loss of somebody that’s close to you. I definitely can understand being a young man; you have some questions that you may not get answered. But if I can be a help of any source, that’s what I want to be. That’s something special to me whenever I can help a young man going through life.”

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