Childhood & Early Life
Jevon Kearse was born on September 3, 1976, in Fort Myers, Florida, to Joseph and Lessie Mae Kearse. He was raised in a rough neighborhood, where criminal activities were rampant. His father, Joseph, was murdered shortly before Jevon was born.
When he was a toddler, he lost his grandfather and a few cousins to criminal activities. He was raised by a single mother, in extreme poverty. His mother later remarried.
Once he stepped into his teenage years, he himself entered the life of petty crimes. He was jailed many times for robberies.
He had an athletic physique. Apparently, he robbed people without carrying a weapon, as his intimidating presence was enough to scare people away. However, over time, Jevon understood that the criminal world was not for him. He began attending school regularly and remained away from the troubles on the streets. He was an avid reader and a sports enthusiast, too.
Jevon grew up with an elder brother and a younger half-brother. He played many sports, such as football and basketball. By the time he was 16 years old, he was more than 6 feet tall and had a bulky body. Despite that, his speed and agility remained unaffected, which made football an ideal sport for him.
He joined the ‘North Fort Myers High School’ and became a star player on their football team. By the time he finished high school, he was already a well-known face locally. He was praised by ‘USA Today’ magazine as a prep ‘All-American,’ which also improved his chances of earning an athletic scholarship from major universities.
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College & Professional Career
The ‘University of Florida’ offered him an athletic scholarship, which he accepted. He joined the university in 1995, and for the next 4 years, he played for his university team, the ‘Florida Gators.’ Due to his tall and heavy frame, he was chosen as either a linebacker or a defensive back.
He began playing at safety in the first year, but during his second season with the college team, he began playing at the linebacker position. However, in the final 2 years of his college career, he was also occasionally asked to play as a defensive end.
While playing at the ‘Southeastern Conference,’ he was nicknamed “The Freak” by his opponents. That name stuck with him forever. During his first game of the tournament, in 1996, he ended up with 6 solo tackles and 1 sack. The team ended up winning the national title, and Jevon contributed greatly to his team’s success.
During the regular season in 1996–1997, Jevon registered 38 tackles in total, along with 6.5 sacks. It led him to earn a place on the ‘All-SEC’ team in 1997.
In 1998, Jevon enhanced his statistics by registering 54 tackles and 7.5 sacks. For the second consecutive time, he earned a place on the ‘All-SEC’ team. This time, he was also honored with the ‘AP SEC Defensive Player of the Year’ title.
The honors did not stop there. Along with being named to many ‘All-American’ teams, he also ended up receiving nominations for awards such as the ‘Lombardi Award’ and the ‘Butkus Award.’
Jevon surprised everyone when he announced that he would forgo his eligibility for the final year of college. He ended his college career with 145 tackles, 16.5 quarterback sacks, 19 pass deflections, and 6 forced fumbles. He was known as one of the best players in the history of ‘Gators,’ an honor that was recognized by a local news publication. ‘The Gainesville Sun’ featured him at the 16th spot on the list of the top 100 greatest players from the ‘Gators’ during their first 100 years.
In the 1999 ‘NFL Draft,’ Jevon was picked up by ‘Tennessee Titans’ as the 16th pick in the first round. He signed a 5-year contract, for $6.1 million.
By the end of his first month at the ‘NFL,’ he was named the ‘NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month,’ as he played a major role in his team winning four out of five games. He was also named the ‘NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year’ by the end of the year, as he managed to register 14.5 sacks and 57 tackles in total. He narrowly won the ‘AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year’ title in 1999. With these honors to his name, he was off to a great start in the ‘NFL.’
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Even in the second season with the ‘Titans,’ he performed well and earned his second consecutive ‘Pro Bowl.’ He ended the season with 53 tackles and 4 forced fumbles.
In the third season, he was selected for the ‘Pro Bowl’ yet again. However, in the next two seasons, his performance remained lukewarm, owing to an injury.
After the 2003 season, the ‘Titans’ failed to strike a good deal with Jevon. He thus signed with the ‘Philadelphia Eagles’ for 8 years on a contract of $65 million.
He began the 2004 season with the ‘Eagles’ and played well in the first season. However, his performance was not as good as it was with the ‘Titans.’
In the 2006 season, Jevon suffered a knee injury that shortened the season for him. In addition, he also lost about 30 pounds, which negatively impacted his performance.
He was an extremely costly player for the ‘Eagles.’ Thus, he was released by the team in 2008. He was signed by the ‘Tennessee Titans’ the same year. However, his performance could not pick up, and he was benched. He has remained away from professional football since then.