Baltimore is a city full of talent, birthing the careers of high-caliber athletes like Carmelo Anthony, Sam Cassell, and Antonio Freeman. Even while Baltimore has produced several premier professional athletes, the city does not always have the proper resources for student-athletes to receive the necessary exposure to move on past the high school level. Baltimore native and recently retired NFL safety Keion Carpenter looks to bring change to the face of Baltimore and create a doorway for its youth to build successful athletic careers.
At Woodlawn Senior High School, Keion competed as a three-sport athlete in track, basketball, and football. To reach the next level, Keion found recognition early from playing AAU basketball and built a reputation with coaches because of his athleticism. However, it was Keion’s talent in football that began to stand out, and by his junior year, he was a Blue Chip high school All-American and a top-100 player.
After high school, Keion played football for Virginia Tech. He graduated with a Bachelors degree in Residential Property Management and was the school's all-time leading punt blocker. In 1999, Keion signed with the Buffalo Bills as a rookie free agent. Keion had a breakout season in 2000, intercepting five passes for sixty-three yards. In 2002, Keion signed with the Atlanta Falcons and intercepted four passes, returning one for a touchdown.
In 2005, Keion started his own foundation —The Carpenter House, Inc. ("TCH") — before officially retiring in 2007 after an eight-year career in the NFL.
After his retirement, Keion Carpenter became a “man on a mission” with his primary focus on his foundation. Through his foundation, Keion seeks to create opportunities for underprivileged families to become homeowners in the inner-city Baltimore area.
The name Carpenter House represents much more than just a family identity, it represents the lessons and teachings that his grandparents have passed down to him and the rest of the family. The main objective of The Carpenter House is to educate, plan, and prepare people for the future by giving them the necessary means to succeed. The foundation wants to empower individuals by helping them find a job, relieve debt, and manage their credit. What sets The Carpenter House apart from other organizations is that they don’t just give out money, they show people how to keep their house and maintain a stable standard of living.
Keion believes he has the blueprint to teach and encourage anyone who is willing to help themselves.
In keeping with The Carpenter House mission, Keion develops housing for the underprivileged and he expects to have his first home completed by Christmas 2008. However he explained, that even though it doesn’t require much effort to help someone in need, he cannot do it alone. "Thirty minutes of volunteer work can mean so much to someone who has nothing at all." With a united effort, he hopes to have 50 to 100 homes developed within the next five years. Eventually, Keion would like to have entire blocks and communities developed as a result of his efforts. Keion wants The Carpenter House to become the model for other cities and communities in need of positive change.
It was a dream of Keion’s to take care of his family and to give back to the city of Baltimore. He knows that Baltimore has some of the best athletes in the country, but they are too often overlooked due to poor grades. Keion could not stress enough how important education is and how it became the deciding factor for his future. He wants to make sure younger kids also understand that with the proper focus on education, along with athletic talent, they can open doors to many opportunities.
To spread the message, Keion and his close friend Jerrell Wilson started the For My Kids program. For My Kids mentors and tutors student-athletes to assist them in successfully reaching the next level in life. He wants kids to be students first and athletes second. He believes kids should start taking the SAT's in ninth grade instead of waiting until the 11th grade. This way, they are more prepared to take it during their senior year and will hopefully score higher.
“The bottom line is that colleges have millions of dollars to offer in scholarships. If the kids can do what they are supposed to scholastically, then the good athletes should be all set,” Carpenter said. He also issues this challenge to the students, “If I could do it without help, then you have no excuse not to try your best!”
Carpenter is an excellent role-model not only for inner-city kids aspiring to be professional athletes, but also for other professional athletes looking to make a difference in people's lives. When Keion retired from the NFL, he made a decision to give back to the community where it all started.
Keion Carpenter is clearly making an effort to change Baltimore for the better. However, he cannot do it alone! He needs, and Baltimore needs everyone's help. All you need is compassion, some spare time, and the willingness to do some manual labor. All it takes is one weekend to change someone’s life! If you are looking to get involved as a volunteer, visit The Carpenter House, Inc.'s official website and contact Benkta Robinson at (410) 790-1367.
On behalf of AccessAthletes, we would like to thank Keion for taking time out of his busy schedule to do an interview with The Real Athlete Blog. Reeve Cononi can be contacted at email@example.com.