CHARACTER COUNTS

Giving back more than just checking boxes for Cardinals’ Kelvin Beachum

Dec 5, 2022, 6:12 PM

Arizona Cardinals OL Kelvin Beachum gives back to Champion Schools: South Mountain on Monday, Dec. ...

Arizona Cardinals OL Kelvin Beachum gives back to Champion Schools: South Mountain on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

PHOENIX — Football is certainly one of the more polarizing avenues Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum walks on the regular.

But it’s far from his only one.

The 11-year veteran has made it a point to not let football define him on its own, whether that’s through investing or giving back in a multitude of ways to the numerous communities in his life.

At the end of the day, there should always be a backup plan in life, something Beachum learned during days of working at his dad’s auto shop in Texas — rightfully named Kelvin’s Automotive. All it took for Beachum to learn that truth was a little bit of hot transmission fluid after not following his dad’s directions to a tee and skipping steps during a shift at the shop.

So although the main focus in Week 14 centers around the Cardinals trying to remedy all the wrong that has gone on this season over the next five matchups, Beachum’s week kicked off with giving back to the future.

In what has become a normal occurrence since Beachum’s arrival to the desert in 2020, the lineman spent the morning at Champion Schools – South Mountain where he — in partnership with World Vision — handed out backpacks, headset microphones and other audio equipment to the 500 kids in attendance.

He didn’t just give out supplies, either, leading the two separate assemblies full of excited and screaming kids with ease while also speaking on the importance of listening regardless of age.

Beachum even had some fun with a kid who made it known he was not a Cardinals fan.

“Everybody can’t go pro in football, but everybody can go pro in STEM — science, technology, engineering, arts and math,” Beachum said Monday. “I really feel if you understand those principles … you can be very, very successful in the global economy that’s continuing to thrive right now. You look at the New York Stock Exchange, you look at where money is being made, where wealth is being created around technology, around kind of the innovation and kind of the more white-collar jobs.

“I’m a blue-collar guy and the same time I realize where this world is going. I want the young people to realize, yes, it’s great to play football, it’s great to play basketball, all those things are great. But at the end of the day, your education is the most important thing.”

For Beachum, his passion for STEM and education as a whole harkens back to his upbringing and working at his dad’s shop.

While the walking a mile and a half to and from the shop on top of the hard work that went into the daily grind of the business helped shape the lineman early on, it wasn’t until later that he realized there was more to it than just changing out spark plugs and changing oil.

“I have a father and a grandfather who both worked on cars growing up, so I was around (STEM) in some shape, form or fashion,” Beachum said. “But I think it took me getting to the National Football League and seeing the world from a different vantage point that I did STEM every single day. … Every day (my father and grandfather) are doing something STEM related.

“So, I want to make sure young people realize that they can do the same thing. It doesn’t have to be up under the hood of a car, it doesn’t have to be on the football field at State Farm Stadium. It can be in the halls of Microsoft; it can be in the halls of some creative agency. It doesn’t matter.”

Beachum has set himself — and his family — up for success post-football. That’s a fact. He’s made sure to dip his toes in other ventures to give not only himself but those around him a better life.

And while handing out backpacks and headsets was the big deal for nearly all those in attendance, it’s the message of giving your all to everything you do — not just sports — that Beachum left behind for the 500-plus kids that he hopes sticks with them.

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