Once a Jayhawk, Always a Jayhawk: Kyle Moore-Brown
Throughout life you will travel through multiple destinations and hopefully leave a lasting legacy in some way, shape or form. You may not know what or why you do the things you do, only that it’s part of the legacy you want to leave. Kyle Moore-Brown is a perfect example of how hard work and determination can pay off. Moore-Brown was born in New Jersey and grew up in the projects. At three years old, Moore-Brown learned the game of football from his uncle Curry Singleton.
“He gave me a football when I was little and I was hooked,” Moore-Brown said. “As I got older he never backed down on me. He taught me how to fight, adapt and work hard.”
Moore-Brown’s first experience playing organized football would be at his first destination, Central High School. He shined as a freshman starting on varsity earning all-city honors as a defensive tackle. His sophomore year he would add all county to his accolades. When Moore-Brown was a junior his luck would change and eventually lead him to his next destination.
“Our starting fullback went down with an injury,” said Moore-Brown. “Coach gave me the football at practice and on the first play I scored. Then the second play, same result. I became the starting fullback and caught the attention of Kansas coach Reggie Mitchell, the University of Miami and Pittsburgh.”
Due to the Big Eight Conference being a primarily rush-heavy conference, Moore-Brown opted for Lawrence, Kansas, which would provide both negatives and positives.
“Arriving in Lawrence was a huge culture shock for me,” stated Moore-Brown. “Coming from a high school with a large population of African-Americans to a school of 26,000 with only a handful of minorities was overwhelming.”
When Moore-Brown came to KU in 1989 the football program was struggling, as the Jayhawks had endured seven consecutive losing seasons. Despite the numbers, Moore-Brown said he knew what he had in teammates and believed they could turn the program around.
Moore-Brown’s football career at Kansas would have to wait another season after he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA in a proposition 48 clause. Moore-Brown credits strength and conditioning coach Fred Roll in keeping him motivated and believing in him, which not only kept him in Lawrence, but brought him back in great shape for his sophomore season.
Moore-Brown wasn’t just a football player. He picked up drawing as a kid and brought the hobby with him to Lawrence and used his skills not only off the field, but on. While a defensive tackle for KU, Moore-Brown and the Jayhawks boasted the number-two ranked defensive line in the nation wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks. For Moore-Brown, getting to the quarterback wasn’t just about x’s and o’s but more so for central points.
“Football is like drawing,” stated Moore-Brown. “Both take incredible focus and patience. Drawing is all about finding the central point, focusing in on it and finding a way to get there. Just like football, you focus in on a central point (the quarterback) and find a way to get there.”
As Moore-Brown and the Jayhawks turned things around on the field, his life also seemed to turn around off the field. When he arrived in Lawrence he met Gilbert Brown, unbeknownst at the time, the two would become brothers. Moore-Brown credits Gilbert’s father, Leroy Brown, for getting his life and head focused on bigger and better things.
“I went home with Gil for summer break once and his family took me in to the point where I felt like I was truly one of their own kids,” said Moore-Brown. “Leroy sat down with me one night and told me to take a different approach on things. I wasn’t focused on education or doing the right things. He was my angel sent from God; he caught me at the right time in my life and led me to be aware of my possibilities.”
Leroy would pass away before Moore-Brown was ever able to say “thank you” so he decided to honor his mentor in another way.
“After he passed away I met with Gil’s family and asked if it’d be ok if I added Brown to my name,” Moore-Brown stated. “They were all for it so I changed my name from Kyle Moore to Kyle Moore-Brown to honor Leroy.”
With the right focus, Moore-Brown and the Jayhawks finished his senior season 8-4 and won the Aloha bowl, KU’s first bowl win in 31 years.
After leaving KU, Moore-Brown landed a tryout with the Detroit Lions. However, according to Moore-Brown, he dropped the ball and relaxed-not taking full advantage of the opportunity. He’d travel back to Lawrence to continue working out, waiting for his next destination when he received a phone call from the Arena Football League. After telling the AFL no, Moore-Brown was awaken by former teammate Guy Howard.
“Guy told me I needed to stop turning down all of these opportunities,” said Moore-Brown. “I called the AFL back and asked for a favor. I told them I’d come play if they let Guy Howard tryout with me, and well the rest is history.”
Moore-Brown would go on to have an AFL career for the record books. He played 15 seasons winning two championships and being named to the All-Ironman Team three times. He also set a record for playing in 236 consecutive games.
“I didn’t want to be just average,” said Moore-Brown. “Football is my passion and I loved coming to work every day. Time used to leave me on the field, I’d think to myself ‘man practice is already over’. I was having fun, doing what I loved to do.”
During the 236 games, Moore-Brown showed his passion and courage during a game. He broke his snapping hand mid-game and without hesitation, started snapping with his left hand so he could stay in the game. He was afraid if he told his coach he’d let him down, something Moore-Brown didn’t do.
His AFL career is a story in its own recently Moore-Brown was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame.
“It is a true honor to be chosen,” said Moore-Brown. “I could not even sleep after hearing the news. To receive such great news, it was hard to soak it all in. I was around my family when I heard my name called and to be with the people you know and love made it special.”
After his playing career ended, Moore-Brown set out looking for a new destination that eventually led him back to Kansas. Currently he’s working for Timeout Academy helping kids with backgrounds similar to his own find their purpose and steer them away from the streets. It’s a role that Moore-Brown saw himself in as a young adult with mentor Leroy.
“I see myself in his role at this academy,” said Moore-Brown. “I’m not going to impact every kid that I come across, but if I can help one kid, it’ll all be worth it. I don’t receive a paycheck for working here, it’s not about that. It’s about helping someone find their passion and chase their dreams like I was able to.”
Moore-Brown has come a long way from his days growing up in the projects in New Jersey, something he’s extremely proud of.
“I can’t fathom where life has taken me,” Moore-Brown said with a pause. “I used to look at the buildings in New York City and I always wanted to be there, in the lights. I went from the projects to possibly being a Hall of Famer. I’m a man of faith and God has kept me from being a statistic.”
For Moore-Brown, the Hall of Fame is a destination. Like Leroy Brown, his legacy will live on.
Once a Jayhawk, Always a Jayhawk