Gangs. Crackheads. Drugs. Shootouts. Police Raids. This was Kevon Seymour's environment, daily, in the "Snake Pits."
For our "three thoughts" post this AM on the BN Blitz Blog, a few extra notes on Seymour...
Nickell Robey took Seymour under his wing, too. If Drew Pearson helped show Seymour a better life toward the end of high school, the current Bills CB Robey did as well into college. Seymour said Robey taught him how to be a "technician" his freshman year every day in practice.
The stories of Robey who overcame a tragedy himself and thrives as one of the shortest players in the league were legendary by the time Seymour stepped on campus. Seymour heard all about Robey keeping a notebook full of the other cornerbacks' strengths and weaknesses on the team.
"He studied them," Seymour said. "He studied the receivers and things like that. He basically did everything he had to do to become the starter to beat them out for his position. He’s a true competitor and somebody I definitely look up to and want to model my game after.”
"He wrote down their strengths and weaknesses. Nickell has a lot of respect for everybody but he just has a different type of mind-set than most guys.”
Seymour didn't keep a notebook himself but lessons from Robey stuck.
And he had a different incentive all along to make the league, too.
"My determination and I wanted better for my mom and my family," he said. "I knew I could do it. I wanted better. At the time, I was just so good at football and listened to my Mom — because I wanted to be like her, I didn’t have a Dad — I put that together.”
One key moment for Seymour? Connecting with Pearson. The secondary coach at John Muir High School saw potential in Seymour and helped open his eyes to an entirely new world outside of the Snake Pits in Pasadena.
From football camps to college visits, Seymour began to realize a new life for himself, for his family was possible. It often takes a presence like Pearson to steer teens in the right direction.
"He was a father figure in my life," Seymour said of Pearson. "When I went to camps and stuff like that, I didn’t go to much because I couldn’t really pay for them. I remember he sat my Mom down my junior year and said, ‘I’ve been here for Kevon and really care about him. He’s going to do big things. Your life is about to change. I don’t want anything. I just know what he can do. I feel like I can help him.’ And he said, ‘I want to fly him out on an unofficial visit to Washington.’ She said, ‘It’s going to cost this and that,’ and he said ‘Don’t worry about it. I’m going to pay for it out of my own pocket.’ At the time, he was getting his Masters degree and he’s in school trying to coach at the same time — things like that.
"My mom, I could just see in her eyes that she was so thankful. She said, ‘Thank you. I’m going to pay you back.’ And he told her right then and there, ‘You don’t have to pay me back. Kevon will pay me back when I see him earn his degree. That will be payback.’ So he was there for me, paying for my camps and stuff like that. And he was actually on the USC staff as a DB coach my junior and senior years. So he was always there for me. When times got hard or I needed something, I never talked to my Mom because she’s a single parent and didn’t really understand. And my twin, he’ll hit me every now and then telling me to keep my head up. But when times were tough, I’d call Drew and he’d never baby me. He never felt sorry for me. He said, ‘So what. What are you going to do now, bro?’ So he was there for me as a father role model.”
Seeing death up close and avoiding death himself all conditioned Kevon Seymour to play cornerback. Rex Ryan wants his corners handling their business one on one, alone, on an island in Buffalo. After everything he's been through, it's a challenge Seymour relishes.
"I look at it as easy. It’s not easy but I’ll make it look easy with all the preparation, film room preparation, on field preparation, I’m doing to do what I have to do.
“I feel like it made me so much stronger, man. I’m built for anything. I’m not built to last but I’m built to dominate and to strive for greatness. Words can’t really explain what I’ve been through and how thankful and blessed I am for this opportunity. And I’m not just accepting this and happy where I’m at. I’m going to work."
He does want to make one thing clear: Kolby Listenbee is faster. While he ran a 4.39 himself at the NFL Combine, Seymour wants to give his new teammate credit here. If they raced, Listenbee is winning.
"I haven’t seen anybody move like him," he said. "He’s fast. He’s a 9.99 100-meter guy. I don’t have anything on that. I went 10.6 in high school and that’s nothing close to what he can do. He’d definitely win in a 100-meter. I have to give him credit on that.
“I can run. But that dude is a different kind of animal when it comes to the 100 meter. I don’t know too many guys who can move like that dude who are in the league right now.”
The fastest in the NFL? “I feel like he is the fastest guy in the NFL. I mean, 10.0?! 10.03?! Come on now. That is crazy."
Crazy, for sure, but Seymour also was the one running away from bullets once in California.