You can’t break Kenny Moore

He's the best player most of America does not know. And how the Colts corner got to this point is wilder than you can imagine, from fighting depression in New England to dominating in Indy.

DAVIE, Fla. — Enter his home and a medieval knight greets you. He’s six feet tall, strapped in 16th century Italian armor and far, far too lifelike. You half-expect this knight to start swinging that Halberd any moment.

Turn right and a rec room is in the works. The pool table is all set up for a game and, up on the left wall, is a giant mural of the man himself — Kenny Moore — lounging atop a throne in the middle of a football stadium. A pile of battered quarterbacks are crumpled at his feet. Giant bolts of lightning strike behind him.

Near the opposite wall is a basketball hoop for his swimming pool, a framed jersey and, why not, a “Penny board.” Moore loves popping on one of his three skateboards to cruise through this neighborhood. What a neighborhood this is, too. Practically every other front yard is being sculpted to perfection with landscapers pulling every conceivable weed out of every conceivable nook ‘n cranny.

Life is good for the Indianapolis Colts corner. This 25-year-old in the sparkling silver earrings and necklaces doesn’t just think outside the box — he lives outside the box.

He goes surfing.

He draws. He just finished up a custom sketch of his new quarterback, Carson Wentz, and is fresh off a call with renowned artist, Mike Perry, to learn as much as he possibly can about the craft.

He loves all types of music, from Drake to Linkin Park to Chris Stapleton to anything “alt country.” Hanging out with Mumford and Sons backstage in Indy was pretty sweet.

He maximizes every millisecond of life, always, because Kenny Moore also knows this: The line is thin. Scary thin. The difference between being a star living like this or a forgotten never-was is microscopic. He didn’t play one down of high school football until his senior year. He was a D-II needle in the haystack. Once he got to the NFL? Moore was so miserable playing for the New England Patriots he wanted to quit. Once he left New England and earned that coveted second contract? Moore still fought depression.

This week, the volatility of pro football was on full display. Soon after an NFL head coach predicted a “massacre” — how nice, huh? — contracts were torn up and lives were uprooted. This can be a dehumanizing time in the NFL. The names flashing across the home page of our iPhones all blur together. And right here is a player who should’ve been chewed up, spat out, forgotten long ago.

Only now, Kenny Moore is one of the most lethal defensive playmakers in the NFL, a ubiquitous threat who makes these Indianapolis Colts a real Super Bowl contender. That’s not hyperbole. He’s the best player most of America does not know. He has every right to be pissed at his Pro Bowl snub. There are days here in South Florida when Moore thinks back to who made it over him and wonders, “Damn. He made that shit?”

Read the list of all Pro Bowl cornerbacks to him, one by one, and he bites his tongue… to a point.

“Jaire Alexander? I’m just like him. Stephon Gilmore? I’m just like him,” Moore says. “I’m an underrated Gilmore. I’m an underrated Jaire. People want to compare me to them, but they’ve gotta be compared to me, too.”

It’s not rocket science why his name doesn’t leap to the forefront of your mind. There’s never been a decibel of hype around his name. Forget five or four or even three stars. Out of high school, no scouting page even existed for Moore. And out of college, he went undrafted. Fifty-six defensive backs were deemed superior. Every red-blooded professional athlete claims to be overlooked but, truly, no star DB took this path.

“Nobody has been at that point,” he says, “where they’re underrated with no stars.”

Which is why Moore is the perfect inspiration for every player on the league’s fringes, every player who wants to give up. He’s been there. He’s lived it. He’s now on the verge of true superstardom. Back at Valdosta State, Moore did not have an alter ego quite like, say, the “Honey Badger” or “Prez.” He’s told that’s key. As an NFL DB, you need something to market, to tweet, to build that hype up. He agrees and believes he has the perfect nickname now.

Granted, Moore hated it at first. During a meeting, Matt Eberflus referred to him as “lightning in a bottle” and Moore thought the Colts defensive coordinator was poking fun at his 5-foot-9 stature.

“I was like, ‘Why the f--- is he calling me that?’”

Then, Moore embraced it. Moore shortened it to “Lightning,” got a bolt tattooed right there behind his left ear and Lightning sure did strike in 2020.  

He saved touchdowns by punching the ball out of receivers’ hands.

He gave up eight inches and 60 pounds to tight ends, like Detroit’s T.J. Hockenson, and still won by TKO when the ball arrived. (He took a pick to the house for good measure in that 41-21 win, too.)

He wrestled the football right out of Brandin Cooks’ grasp to break Deshaun Watson’s streak of 237 passes without an interception.

Then, of course, his one-handed pick vs. the Raiders defied gravity.

He got to the other side. He’s the ultimate NFL success story.

And to think, a short four years ago, Kenny Moore dreaded waking up in the morning. Bring up the summer of 2017 and his voice lowers. His complexion goes pale.

All joy splashed across his face melts away.

He felt completely joyless. Dead inside. Like he wanted absolutely nothing to do with football anymore if this is what football now entailed.

That’s what life as a New England Patriot felt like to Moore.

“The longest four months of my life,” he begins. “I thought I was done with football.

“My mental capacity and my mental space? I was just maxed out.”

Of course, it was a miracle that a kid from Valdosta, Ga. — a kid who wasn’t even dreaming about an NFL career — was even in training camp with the defending champs. The year prior, New England pulled off the 28-3 miracle. As a UDFA, Moore was able to choose his destination and Moore chose this magic. Moore chose the franchise that routinely turned players from Nowhere University into living legends. Malcolm Butler, one such Super Bowl hero, played in the same D-II conference as him. Now, he could learn from Butler? This was perfect.

Until it wasn’t.

Almost immediately.

The culture here starts with Bill Belichick and trickles down to all assistants so, Moore explains, he butted heads with his position coach all the time: Josh Boyer. That relationship only grew more toxic over time and what exactly made life in New England such hell is difficult to explain. Moore describes it as the ultimate “you had to be there” experience.

The workload, for one, was “exhausting.” The atmosphere? “More like the military.”

If life was like this in New England — where all the team did was win championships — Moore assumed every team operated this way.

“That was one of the low spots of my life,” Moore says, “because that’s really when I felt like, ‘I’m probably not built for the league.’ And having that feeling of, ‘You’re not good enough,’ that’s a bad feeling. You feel like you don’t belong. I lost all of my joy and passion. I didn’t even want to play football. I didn’t want to go to work anymore.

“I was depressed. I was trying to fight my way out of it.”

The harder he fought, the worse the depression got. Moore started telling people close to him it was only a matter of time before the Patriots cut him. That is, if he talked to them at all. Most nights, he wouldn’t answer texts or calls from his closest friends and family members. He remembers going home, staring at his notes and falling asleep. He could feel it in his bones as he closed his eyes — I’m going to get cut — and what a sinking feeling that was.

As one day bled to the next, he lost a little more joy.

“It just felt robotic,” Moore says. “You don’t want to do anything else but go home and go to sleep because tomorrow is about to be crazy. I really felt like I was in the military. Like, damn.”

Moore downplays the intensity of the X’s and O’s. To him, defensive football is essentially like mathematics. In third grade, you’re learning times tables. In middle school, variables. In high school, Algebra. In college, maybe even calculus. That’s football, he explains. You’re constantly progressing. And it was exactly this — Moore’s sharp football IQ — that blew NFL scouts away.

Never one to say anything good about rookies, Belichick even went out of his way to praise Moore at the start of training camp.

More than anything, football frankly just was not fun anymore.

The only thing that kept Moore sane were teammates like Butler, Eric Rowe, Elandon Roberts and the rookies going through the same initiation. He points out that there’s a reason Matthew Stafford was willing to play for any team but the Patriots. And he’s not alone in criticizing the monster Belichick has built. Danny Amendola said when you look up “Patriot Way” in the dictionary it’ll have Tom Brady’s name next to it because “none of those coaches caught any passes, none of those coaches made any tackles.” Linebacker Cassius Marsh went a step further, saying there’s nothing fun about playing in New England at all. For the first time in his life, he didn’t want to play football. (“I hated it that much,” he said.)

Eagles tackle Lane Johnson — speaking for those who cannot — called the Patriots a “fear-based organization.”

Possibly, safety Tavon Wilson put it best. He played for the Patriots from 2012-15 and was Moore’s Colts teammate last season. The two talked about life in New England often.

“The NFL is a production-based so when you go to New England, they just want to work and want to win,” Wilson says. “My first two years, I didn’t understand it. But my third year, once I got comfortable and all that, New England is literally one of the most fun places to be. I’m not bullshitting you. The locker room is off the charts. You will not find a better locker room than New England. Because everybody ‘hates Bill,’ supposedly, but realistically everybody respects what he’s doing and he expects everybody to do their job.

“The older I got, the more I understood: If you do your part, he doesn’t give a f--- what else you do. But as a younger player? They are on you.”

And that is Moore’s point: This culture is brutal for rookies. “Over the top,” he says. Either you fit the The Patriot Way or not and, Moore explains, they’re going to find out that first training camp. They’re going to put you through what he calls a “mind test.” Asked if it was a matter of hazing or coaches just being jerks, he says it’s the latter.

Part of Moore wanted the Patriots to put him out of his misery and cut him already.  

Finally, on Sept. 2, 2017, they did. Belichick was nice enough about it. He told Moore that they liked him and this was a numbers game.

The next day, the Colts claimed Moore, but he was still scarred. He still felt that emptiness. That dread. Moore was 930 miles from New England yet continued to act like a “robot” through that 2017 season because that’s what he assumed life in the NFL truly was.

He met with David Thornton, the team’s director of player engagement every day.

He met with a therapist every day.

Moore was not sure if he’d ever find his joy again.

Before Kenny Moore wanted to quit this sport in New England, he actually did quit in eighth grade.

He remembers kissing football goodbye like it was yesterday.

The spring before his freshman year at Lowndes (Ga.) H.S., he darted around the practice field in a No. 64 jersey, bound ‘n determined to stick as a wide receiver. That was always his position. That’s all he wanted to do. When a position coach called him over — “64!” — and told Moore he’d be moved to defensive back into high school, he was done. Moore hated the physicality of the sport. Tackle other players? At this size? Thanks, but no thanks. He doesn’t even remember how small he was in that eighth-grade moment, only that he was a whopping 5-foot-7, 138 pounds upon graduating four years later.

Inside the locker room, Moore wished his teammates good luck the rest of their high school football careers.

When Mom picked him up, he told her he was quitting. She did not object.

And through grades 9, 10 and 11, Moore starred in every other sport.

In soccer, as a freshman, he made the JV team. In basketball, he calls himself a “Rajon Rondo”-type. He couldn’t shoot a lick but played smothering defense. And into track, as a junior, he made states in the 110 hurdles. All along, the school’s head football coach, Randy McPherson, tried to convince him to play. All along, Moore attended football games, too.

Serving food up in the concession stands, Moore soaked in the atmosphere. It was electric.

Then, one classmate’s mistake changed everything. Devante Watts, a DB on the football team, also made states in the 110 hurdles. Full details are not shared here. All Moore says is that, at states, Watts posted something on Instagram and “it led to things blowing up.” It was bad, he assures. Even for high school. Watts was promptly booted from the football team and back at school — in chemistry class — he tried to convince Moore to play and take his spot. When Moore countered that he was too small, Watts pressed him to give it a go anyways.

This was Tipping Point No. 1.

“We’re not sitting here,” Moore says, “if he didn’t convince me to play.”

Moore walked right down to McPherson’s room to say he was ready to play. He told the coach he wanted to get “bigger, faster and stronger” — words that make him laugh and cringe today — and McPherson was thrilled. McPherson said he could pick up Moore every morning for workouts. It was right on his way. Good thing, too, with Mom working two jobs and Dad not in the picture.

Of course, Moore was beyond nervous. Moore was so weak, he didn’t dare lift weights around other players. So on top of this, he also changed one of his elective classes from gym to weight room and, he says, “my whole life changed.” He taught himself how to blast through self-doubt. There were countless moments, dumbbells in-hand, Moore wanted to quit this crazy plan to play football. And he persevered.

He morphed from fragile to hostile.

When the pads came on that senior year, Moore had zero problem hurling his diminutive frame into anything and made a point to emulate one of Lowndes’ best players. Tiquan Lang was small and fast and fearless and all set to play at Marshall University the next fall, so Moore watched Lang’s every move. And all of a sudden, that kid serving popcorn on Friday nights was lighting up receivers on Friday nights.

Nothing beat strutting down those high school hallways with his chest out.

Says Moore: “I was like, ‘Damn, this shit is fun as hell. I’ve got my fam and the student section.’ I was enjoying the process of being a football player in my high school. That shit brought so much notoriety in my school. Everybody in the school knew me. It just felt cool, you know what I mean?”

Moore’s 18 tackles and two picks that season even earned him a nibble of college interest, too.

Nearby Valdosta State — a D-II school 2.3 miles away — was interested but, eh, Moore still was not. He couldn’t get the Air Force out of his mind. Throughout high school, he felt so much pressure from family, from advisors, from his six sisters who were much smarter than him to lock in a specific life gameplan for himself. And this was it. He was set on being an engineer.

This time, Mom did step in. Mom didn’t like the idea of her only son living on the other side of the planet.

So, this was Tipping Point No. 2. The two made a deal.

If Moore didn’t play at all as a college freshman, fine, he could quit. He could join the Air Force and move to South Korea or wherever. But if he played? He had to wait until after graduating college to consider the Air Force. (“Here goes nothing,” Moore told himself.) That fall camp, he made play… after play… after play… and the defensive coordinator took notice. Seth Wallace, now the linebackers coach at Iowa, loved him, loved his family, loved his game and injected Moore with a crucial shot of hope that camp. While teaching Moore how to jam a receiver in Cover 2, he told him that if he learned how to get up into a receiver’s grill and play physical, he could be a damn good college player.

“You just have to believe,” Wallace told him.

That freshman year, one of Valdosta’s corners was getting burnt badly vs. rival West Georgia, so Wallace inserted Moore into the game and Moore’s interception sealed a win.

Which was Tipping Point No. 3. Right then, Moore did start to believe and his college career took off. With his coaches changing literally every season, Moore constantly learned new schemes and new ways of playing cornerback. Change was a blessing. Right when the kid he used to mimic back in high school was booted from Marshall and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin, Moore was dotting the NFL’s radar.

His game had bite, too.

Before kickoff, Moore made a habit of watching film of the most dominant defensive backs in college football and always found himself circling back to the “Honey Badger.” Tyrann Mathieu was Grade A proof that a 5-foot-9 defensive back could not only play the game but obliterate the game. That would be him.

“I wanted to be one of those fearless guys,” Moore says. “I don’t care what I am on the sheet. I want to play bigger than what I am. Having that hunger changed my game.”

So, yeah, imagine the pain Kenny Moore felt his first four months in the NFL. Imagine building up such a real, raw passion for the sport only for a virtual IV to be needled into your arm sucking away all of that passion.

That was life in New England.

To Moore, it’s simple: Football is a game. What’s the point of busting ass day-in and day-out if you’re never allowing players to enjoy the fruits of that labor? If you’re never having fun, like, at all?

“Because for you to go through life and work hard, it doesn’t really mean shit if you’re not meeting people around you and having those relationships to better everything,” Moore says. “I was so serious going into Indianapolis. I was just that kid: ‘Damn, you can tell he’s from New England.’ I was one of those guys. I wasn’t happy. I really wasn’t happy.”

Struggling to relight that old flame, Moore still worked his way into the Colts lineup that 2017 season. The next year he crashed onto the scene with 77 tackles, three picks and 11 total pass breakups to earn a four-year, $33.3 million contract. Signing that dotted line was a surreal moment for that runt of the litter in a baggy No. 64 jersey.

But that’s the thing about the cutthroat NFL.

You can never really exhale.

The country was learning who he was and, still, Kenny Moore couldn’t bask in his own glow. There was a sadness tucked away in the back part of his brain that he could not shake.

He’d tell everyone through the 2019 season that everything was fine when everything most certainly was not.

“I feel like joy and happiness are different,” Moore says. “You can be happy and still be sad about something. But joy is like you’re taking everything to a real effect and you can really say at the end of the day, ‘I’m at peace.’ That’s joy to me. That’s something I learned. Sometimes, people would say, ‘How are you doing?’ And it’s ‘I’m good.’ But you’re not really saying, ‘I’m blessed.’”

No, it wasn’t only that militaristic Patriot Way that spiraled him into depression. Moore admits it took him “years” to find peace, find joy.

Because once the injuries started in 2019, they never seemed to stop.

The risk of injury, of course, was the reason Moore didn’t want to play this sport to begin with. Way back when he barely cracked triple digits on the scale. By this point, he had already suffered three concussions in the pros. Hell yes, he’s worried about CTE down the line. Bring up Ryan Leaf’s daily battle and the corner’s eyes widen. Right there, he says, is why he started tackling players differently.

He didn’t suffer a concussion in ’19 but he did batter just about every other part of his body.

Moore starts by staring down at his right thumb in a trance. He thought he merely jammed it in a joint practice with the Cleveland Browns. He got an MRI on a Wednesday and that Thursday —two weeks before the season began — the Colts told him he needed emergency surgery.

“I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’” Moore says. “I was like, ‘Oh, f---. Will I be able to play?’”

They said yes. He got the surgery. He played two games with a cast.

Shifting story to story, Moore then slaps his left arm. Once he took that cast off, into Game No. 3 against the Falcons, there Moore was mano-a-mano with Julio Jones. The Falcons’ transformer of a wide receiver caught a ball on a slant route — “I hate guarding slants,” Moore admits — and then all of his 220 pounds landed directly on Moore’s arm. The blow sprained his elbow. Moore took a handful of plays off, sleeved it up, got back out there and thought he was in the clear.

He was not.

Two games later, the Colts played the Chiefs on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. The first drive of the game — he recalls in agony — Colts safety George Odum “ducks his head” and “closes his eyes” and blasted right into his knee while he was tackling receiver Byron Pringle. “F------ George,” Moore says, shaking his head. That collision caused a Grade 2 ACL sprain. He missed a few drives and returned. Moore’s thankful Tyreek Hill wasn’t playing. No way he would’ve been able to hang with the Chiefs’ top receiver on one good leg.

Then, on Dec. 1 that season, one injury finally knocked Moore out for good. After standing up the 240-pound Derrick Henry for a one-yard loss, the whistle blew, Moore couldn’t shake free from the muck and friendly fire struck again. His ankle was enveloped underneath massive defensive lineman Jabaal Sheard.

“They blow the whistle. It’s a TFL. And Jabaal Sheard comes in late to the pile, after the whistle.

“So that ended my season.”

Mentally, through it all, his demons returned. This felt like New England all over again.

“I had no joy. I wasn’t even happy. I was pretty much going through the motions.”

To Moore, finding peace was simple: He leaned into his faith.

He’s always been religious. Moore grew up in a Methodist church and says he made a promise to himself and God out of high school that he “would never forsake him.” That season, Moore was also having issues with a family member which — on top of his own teammates knocking him out nonstop — made for a mind-numbing season. Turning to faith again is what helped. Moore cites one midseason Bible study as a turning point.

The pastor talked about the power of forgiveness, and his words hit home.

“For you to accept God’s blessing, you have to forgive and have your life in order, too,” Moore says. “Because the things that God gives you, he obviously knows that you’re prepared to have. But if he wants to give you something and you’re not prepared to have it, then he’ll take that blessing away from you because, obviously, you’re not prepared to handle that opportunity.”

Moore suffered a turf toe injury the first day of 2020 training camp. Two days later, he strained his groin on the same side because he was overcompensating and… he was forced to miss all of camp.

He panicked. He could hardly move Week 1 vs. Jacksonville. He worried he’d rip his groin clean off.

Then, the blessings came his way. No slot cornerback was better last season than Moore, who finished with 80 tackles (68 solo), four interceptions, 13 breakups and two sacks. And in reality, Moore is not only a “slot” corner because Eberflus uses him everywhere. Outside. Inside. Linebacker. Safety. Moore doesn’t believe he has a defined position, calling himself a straight-up “athlete.”

Within this scheme, all pressure is on No. 23. He needs to get teammates lined up and cover a ton of ground and make game-altering plays. Moore says the key to playing DB in the NFL is to disguise a coverage without letting that disguise completely consume you mentally to the point of being a robot on the field. He sees so many DBs that are so terrified of making a “Cover 2” coverage look like “man-to-man” that they freeze up.

And Moore, right now, is playing with the kind unbridled joy that’s infectious throughout the Colts’ defense.

Wilson sees Moore having a “Ronde Barber”-like career that lasts for years.

“Really good tackler. Smart football player. Tough football player,” says Wilson, a free agent himself right now. “He plays the game the right way, does things the right way. I think Kenny will play a long time. He’s got long arms and big hands. Huge hands. Those interceptions are off the charts.”

Look no further than his best play to date, vs. the Raiders. Quarterback Derek Carr no doubt was loving this matchup, this alley-oop of a fade route — tight end Darren Waller has nine inches on Moore. Yet in the corner of the end zone, Moore twisted his body around to leap and grip the pigskin with one hand.

Moore downplays the acrobatics.

A play like that? “Normal.”

“I do that all the time,” Moore says. “Literally, the next week after that play, I did it in practice. Everybody was going crazy like I had just did it in a game. But I did it in college. I’m good for something crazy. I try to do crazy stuff like that.

“I’ll show you. I did it in training on Monday.”

Just like that, Moore picks up one of the two phones sitting on this table, the one with the cracked screen, and starts tapping open highlights. He isn’t lying. There’s Moore, in training, gripping another one-handed pick out of thin air. In the background, you only hear one “Yes sir!” as if those who are around Moore the most have become immune to this all.

Then, he pulls up another play in training. And another. And another.

This is “Lightning.” Lightning believes he is redefining what a cornerback can do. And like the boisterous Ramsey and the stone-cold Gilmore, he knows he also can bring life to his entire defense. It’s an intangible few players possess.

“It’s different to hear somebody on TV say, ‘Jalen Ramsey, he’s scrappy, he’s talkative, he’s competitive’ — all of these traits — but it’s different whenever you play with a certain guy like that. Players like that can change the entire defense. I’m a guy more so like Stephon Gilmore — he doesn’t have to say too much. But you’re going to know I’m here. All of that stuff is contagious in changing a defense and having fun. Because, to play defense, all of us are a little crazy.

“But to have fun with it, you really have to have that camaraderie.”

Which he is.

Now, anything’s possible.

The first casualty of this “massacre” fell earlier this day. One of Moore’s good friends in the league, linebacker Kyle Van Noy, was cut loose one year into a four-year deal with the Miami Dolphins.

Moore had no idea and is shocked to hear the news.

Then again, he isn’t.

He starts listing names of players who’ve been discarded.

“There are so many scenarios out there where the team pretty much turns against the player,” Moore says. “Everybody tells me: ‘You’re a household name guy! They’ll never trade you!’ I’m like, ‘Do you watch TV? It’s not about me. It’s about the business.’ However way they want to save money, that will shake out.”

This sure was a chaotic week in pro football. Nothing tells you the game’s a business more than players getting dumped every 15 minutes.

But Moore represents hope. Moore is an inspiration for all players toiling on the fringes because he was there. He was certain the NFL was not for him, and here he is talking about being one of the best players in the sport. Which all goes to show that, hey, maybe a militaristic approach to the sport isn’t for the best. Do your job is championed, Bill Belichick is lionized and surely the Patriots would tell all to kiss the rings but it’s also true that practically every coach underneath Belichick has failed elsewhere.

Quite possibly, this was the “Brady Way” all along.

Quite possibly, a work environment that sucks all fun out of the game isn’t for the best. This game doesn’t need to be a business, 24/7, that sends players into depression.

If there’s a team that treats NFL players as human beings, it’s the Colts. They’re widely respected as an organization that encourages dialogue between players and coaches and the front office. Nobody feels uncomfortable walking into any room here. The infrastructure is built on transparency and you won’t find a more transparent GM than Chris Ballard and a more transparent head coach than Frank Reich. There’s no need for anyone to feel like a “robot” here.

Moore only thinks positively these days.

Even then, he knows life will always throw something unexpected at him.

Here inside his home, Moore starts twirling a threaded bracelet around his wrist with beads that spell out “M-I-G-H-T-Y.” Wrapped around the other wrist is a band that reads “Mighty Mason.” He thinks about Mason Garvey often — “That’s my dog right there.” The two met in November of 2018 and became incredibly close as Mason battled cancer. Kenny viewed him as the little brother he never had. And on June 25, 2020, Mason passed away.

“I really saw him in my future,” Moore says. “When I think about my future, I think about Mason being there with me.”

He thinks of Mason every day.

He thinks of his Dad, too.

Kenneth Moore was out of his son’s life for 15 years when, one night in college, Kenny had a dream he had reunited with his Dad. So, he reached out. So, he took it upon himself to rekindle a lost relationship. Moore was not resentful. Moore didn’t demand answers. Moore never even asked why he’d see his Dad up in the stands during high school games at Lowndes only for Dad to leave immediately afterward. No, Moore just tried to make up for time lost. A ride here, a lunch there.

Little did he know Dad’s days were numbered.

Two months into this reunion, Kenneth died at the age of 56 due to kidney and liver failure.

Kenny was depressed then, too, and powered through. He legally changed his name to “Kenny Moore II.” He added that “II” to his uniform. He chose to honor a father who was absent most of his life because he knows he’s a reflection of him.

The easy thing to do is ignore a Dad who was MIA.

But this is what truly allows Kenny Moore II to power through anything: Grace.

“It’s not right if I’m holding a grudge with my Dad or anybody on this earth,” he says. “That’s contradictory if you want the Lord to bless you and help you move forward with your life, but you’re still stuck on something. It ain’t right for me to even judge somebody for their character that hasn’t even been amongst me. And that takes courage and strength and consistency and integrity to accept people for the way they are and not judge people for their actions. I felt like we were family. I felt like we were friends before. I accepted that. I try to live my life in joy.

“I firmly believe that I can’t move forward if I can’t forgive. That’s what it comes down to.”

And with those words, Moore glows once more.

Surrounded by palm trees, he doesn’t take one day for granted down here.

The unparalleled rise. The Patriots. The injuries. Two hours of storytelling seems to have been a cathartic experience. All fans see when they watch a football game, he explains, is a body in a number and a face hidden behind a facemask. He wants people to know players all around the NFL are battling something.

Behind that 140-character tweet is a real person with a real story fighting like crazy to stay in this league. The average career lasts 2 ½ seasons and you’re bound to battle more than you could ever imagine in those 2 ½ seasons.

Moore? He’s entering Year 5. He’s just getting started.

He’s ready for anything.

“There’s no stopping me,” he says. “I’m going to continue where I left off, trying to be all that I can be. I live in the present.

“Whatever you see, is going to be 123 percent Kenny Moore II.”

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