Kelvin Beachum is one of the most feared offensive tackles in the NFL. He dominated the offensive line with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2012-15 and signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars during the off-season.
However, I recently found that the Beachum is more teddy bear than grizzly bear when he’s off the field.
Ending childhood hunger is one of his top priorities. Earlier this year, he traveled to Honduras to witness World Vision’s efforts to combat hunger globally. He was surprised to find that finding a clean source of water is just as difficult as finding food in the Central American country.
“We take a clean glass of water for granted,” Beachum says. “In Honduras, kids are walking miles and miles for clean water.”
I spoke with Beachum about the 13 to 17 million U.S. children who are food insecure, cultural differences around the country and the world, his career and more.
What are some of the cultural differences between Jacksonville and Pittsburgh?
Coming back to the South (Jacksonville) is big for me. I grew up in Texas and it was very country. Jacksonville is very slow, which is what I like.
Why did you visit Honduras in February and what was your biggest takeaway?
I wanted to see some of the work that World Vision is doing. Childhood hunger is a real problem, both internationally and domestically, and being able to see how another country deals with the issue was impactful. The big takeaway was seeing the different kinds of hunger and poverty in Honduras versus needs in the U.S.
Why is world hunger important to you?
I wouldn’t be the player I am without food. I have a voice to bring awareness to world hunger and I enjoy doing it.
How did you choose Southern Methodist University in Texas over other schools?
My mama told me to go there. I had numerous offers but SMU was the first school we visited. My mom loved it and so did my dad. My mom said, “This is where you should be.” [Football] wasn’t pleasant when I started at SMU. We went 2 and 22 my first two years and I wanted to transfer. But I stuck with it and went to three straight bowl games.
How has traveling the world and serving underprivileged people changed you?
It made me appreciate my daughter more—and appreciate the smaller things in life. To be able to serve others is very special.
Did you collect football cards growing up as a kid?
No, I wasn’t a big collector. I do collect jerseys and different things from places I have been—little mementos that remind me of what I have done, where I have been and what I have accomplished.
What do you like to see/do when traveling?
I love to visit local restaurants to get a feel for each city. I’m also interested in the history associated with each city.
In 2012, you were drafted in the 7th round and final round. Today, you are arguably the best offensive tackle in NFL. What advice would you give to kids in high school/college or somebody picked last in their intramural team?
Take pride in everything you do. Find out what you’re passionate about. What is your why: Find out why you are doing what you are doing and understand the sacrifices. Everything else will take care of itself.