The ability to positively affect someone’s life is an immeasurable value. Whether that be a person close to you, or someone in your community who you’ve never met. The individual that personifies “giving back” gives without expecting something in return, realizes there are countless people in need of help, and believes in their heart they were meant for something greater than accolades or individual achievements. Introducing KJ Wright.
From Olive Branch, Mississippi to Newcastle, Washington, KJ has made a positive impact wherever he’s been. His roots in Olive Branch have molded him into the genuine man he is today. When asked if being a positive role model was innate in him or something he learned growing up, his answer was straight to the point. “All the credit goes to my family, and especially my grandmother,” he says. “They embedded in me that I have been blessed, so I can be a blessing to others.” He learned early on the importance of visiting Ronald McDonald Houses and nursing homes, helping the less fortunate, and donating shoes and clothes. This upbringing laid the foundation for him to place a high priority on helping those in need. They taught him the importance of treating others with kindness and humility, and how to navigate challenges with grace and determination.
So how did a young, driven and extremely talented KJ Wright end up calling this area home? Many people assume that one’s path to the NFL is an easy road that comes with little to no resistance. For most, that is far from the truth. In 2011, when KJ graduated from Mississippi State with a degree in Criminology and entered the draft, he had high hopes mixed with a bit of uncertainty. On the second day of the draft he remembers the frustration of hearing the last name called in the third round, and it was not his. The following day was his college graduation and he was less than thrilled, saying, “I told my mom, ‘Forget this, I am not going to graduation. I just want to stay home and watch the draft’.” She made it clear to KJ that he would be walking across the stage the next day and he smartly obliged. The next day, while dressed in his cap and gown, he received a call with a 425 area code. It was Seahawks GM John Schneider, informing him that he had been selected 99th overall by the Seattle Seahawks.
That phone call was a celebration and culmination of all the hard work and sacrifices he had made leading up to that moment. He had earned that celebration and he looked forward to showing the Seahawks organization they had made the right choice. During the first two years of his career, he returned home in the off-season and enjoyed seeing his family and friends. Once he met his wife, Nathalie, and got married here, Seattle meant something more to him. He had found a new home here. Since then he has fallen in love with the people in this area, the community, the impeccable beauty of the surrounding lakes and mountain ranges, and everything that encapsulates the Pacific Northwest.
From the moment he stepped onto the NFL field, KJ Wright made an impact. He was a crucial part of the Seahawks' defense, helping them achieve great success during his career. In 2013, he was a key contributor to the Seahawks' organization winning its first Super Bowl. Throughout his career, KJ earned numerous accolades and was recognized for his performance with multiple Pro Bowl honors, further solidifying his status as one of the NFL's top linebackers.
Beyond his on-field accomplishments, KJ Wright's impact extended far beyond the football field. He has always been actively involved in charitable endeavors, giving back to his community and making a positive difference in the lives of others. From partnering with local Boys and Girls clubs to supporting his teammates' foundations, in addition to local nonprofits, he also used his platform to raise awareness about social issues.
Now that he has officially retired as a Seahawk, he focuses on the imprint and legacy he will leave behind. Ultimately this led to the creation of The Wright Foundation. In partnership with the Boys & Girls Club, KJ has a vision of teaching and guiding kids toward a path of education and success. For KJ, the Boys & Girls Club was a perfect fit since their mission and goals aligned with his. He wants to put a high priority on financial literacy, saying, “It’s not taught enough in schools. If we can educate kids on how to save properly and teach them about things like compound interest and building credit, then they can hopefully avoid the rat race of living paycheck to paycheck. If we can imprint this on them when they are kids, that can be life-changing”. KJ strives to build a foundation of financial literacy for so many kids who might not have the tools or opportunities provided for them otherwise.
The other element he wants to place a high priority on is supporting student-athletes. He states, “Football changed my life for the better. It taught me the power of teamwork, dedicating yourself to your craft, and committing to something for the greater good. If I can support these kids to keep them active, get them off screens, and keep them out of trouble, that would be an incredible start.”
Whether it be a success on the field, in the classroom or at home, everything starts with education. KJ envisions a program that kids can take as they grow up and ultimately graduate from his course. He also aims to be able to provide scholarships and funds for those individuals who have shown unwavering dedication, but might not have the financial capabilities to capitalize on all their hard work.
In the end, the youth in Olive Branch, Mississippi, as well as those who reside in the greater Puget Sound area, have someone who truly cares about their future. KJ and The Wright Way Foundation have just begun their journey to help positively impact the lives of so many. Passion personified. The Wright Way.