Javon Kinlaw’s incredible football story just keeps getting better

Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

How can you not root for a man like Javon Kinlaw on his football journey?

Javon Kinlaw‘s football life is one of triumph in the most adverse of circumstances.

The first-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers grew up homeless in the Washington, D.C. area. He, his mother and his two siblings grew up in abject poverty after emigrating from Trinidad and Tobago. After playing high school football in Goose Creek, South Carolina, Kinlaw had to play one year of junior college ball before he could even arrive on the University of South Carolina campus.

After three years playing for Will Muschamp’s South Carolina Gamecocks, the First-Team All-SEC defensive lineman became the No. 13 overall pick by the defending NFC champions in the 2020 NFL Draft. Kinlaw was selected by 49ers general manager John Lynch to replace DeForest Buckner on the defensive line, who he traded to the Indianapolis Colts for that particular draft pick.

In case you need a recap of what Kinlaw went through in his youth, Warren Sharp of Sharp Football Analysis perfectly encapsulates the adversity Kinlaw had to overcome in this tweet. Kinlaw grew up homeless, had no electricity and had to boil water out of his neighbor’s hose to bathe. He didn’t eat his first two days at junior college because he didn’t know the food was free.


Javon Kinlaw’s football journey is inspiring and borderline unbelievable.

On June 26, Kinlaw signed his rookie contract with the 49ers. He will earn $15.5 million over that four-year contract, as well as an additional $8.7 million from his signing bonus. Sharp mentions Kinlaw has huge plans to give back to the homeless community with the help of this life-changing money.

“Grew up tryna figure out why God put us through so much heartache,” said Kinlaw. “He knew I was a soldier. He know I was solid to the bone. That’s the only reason I even took it this far. Somebody tell my momma I became a millionaire today. Somebody tell her that her prayers was answered. Imma go down a legend for everything I went through and still made it here for this.”

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Kinlaw will never forget where he came from and what he had to overcome to even get here. At this point, it doesn’t matter what he does on the football field for the 49ers. If he lives up to his lofty draft status, then that’s wonderful. He’s already a legend in South Carolina football lore and we know he will shape the lives of so many in a positive manner with this rookie contract of his.

Here’s to Kinlaw impacting many lives with his newfound wealth and impeccable determination.