🎙 The Jayhawker Podcast | Kwamie Lassiter II
Episode 38: Kwamie Lassiter II | October 1, 2020
Kwamie Lassiter II was destined to play at Kansas.
After all, his dad was an All-Big 8 performer and an Aloha Bowl champion defensive back for the Jayhawks. The elder Lassiter then went on to have a 10-year NFL career – spending eight of those seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.
Growing up in Arizona, Lassiter II enjoyed the influential role his father played in his own football life. His dad was always coaching him up, going to games, and inspiring him to be the best player he could be.
“(He taught me to) stay on top of everything and be the best at everything I do,” recalled Lassiter II. “He always used to say, ‘BTB – Be The Best.’ So, I try to be the best at everything, whether we’re at workouts or conditioning, I just try to be great.”
Those lessons and encouragement from his dad were invaluable and helped propel Lassiter II to be a standout football player and track star in high school. However, he was overlooked by most D-1 schools in part, due to his size (he only weight 147 pounds as a senior).
But after attending a spring football game at Kansas, Lassiter II knew he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“I could see myself playing here, so I walked-on here,” explained Lassiter II. “When I walked-on, I could see myself playing and earning a scholarship real quick. I had NAIA schools and (junior colleges interested) but I honestly didn’t see myself doing that.”
So, just like his father who ascended to NFL stardom despite not being drafted, Lassiter II climbed to scholarship status despite having to initially walk-on at Kansas. With his dad offering instructions from the stands and his loving mother Ericka praying with him before each game, Lassiter II slowly started to carve out a role on the Jayhawks roster both on special teams and on offense.
The day he texted his parents that he was officially on scholarship, he couldn’t have been happier and his famous Jayhawk father also beamed with pride.
Sadly, that joy was stolen not long after. Kwamie’s dad passed away from a heart attack in January of 2019. It was obviously devastating, and for Lassiter II, it changed everything. Gone were the postgame breakdowns, the workouts, and the father-son bonding.
It was grief unlike any he’d ever felt.
“I was about to go to the gym with him but I was waiting on my little brother to wake up. So, he went and he went 20 minutes before us,” recalled Lassiter II. “My mom came running upstairs telling us he had a heart attack; so we rushed to the hospital and found out there. It was one of the worst days of my life – THE worst day of my life.”
From there, Lassiter II leaned on his faith and his family to overcome such overwhelming tragedy.
“I keep faith a lot,” described Lassiter II. “I read the Bible a lot so I’m into faith and I keep my family close and my loved ones and honestly, that’s really all I needed.”
That and the distraction and motivation of football.
“Football actually (still helps me) through it today,” explained Lassiter II. “Once I’m in between those lines I don’t think about anything else. I just focus on what I have to do and that’s something my dad preached on a lot. When I’m playing football all my worries go out the window until the clock reaches zeroes.”
Lassiter continues to live by his dad’s “BTB” mantra and has gradually climbed the Kansas depth chart and emerged as a playmaker for the Jayhawks both as a receiver and punt returner. In fact, through two games, he leads Kansas with 128 receiving yards.
He’s making his family proud in the process, and if he has his way, he’ll keep on following his father’s path all the way to the NFL.
Learn more about the Lassiter II’s football life on this week’s edition of “The Jayhawker Podcast”.