News Americas, New York, NY, Thurs. Feb. 1, 2024: Caribbean football fans are in for an exciting Super Bowl showdown as Trinidad & Tobago-born Javon Kinlaw, an immigrant from the Caribbean, is set to take center stage in the Super Bowl LVIII.
Kinlaw is set to represent the San Francisco 49ers as they face off against the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on February 11th – (6:30 p.m. ET, CBS). He is the only Caribbean born immigrants set to play in Super Bowl LVIII.
The 26-year-old defensive tackle, known by his jersey number #99, began his football journey in college at South Carolina before being drafted by the 49ers in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Kinlaw’s remarkable story began in Port of Spain, Trinidad’s capital, where he was born. His early life took a challenging turn when he and his mother and brother relocated to Washington, D.C., and faced homelessness. For a significant period, Javon lived in an apartment in the D.C. region, sharing the space with his mother and older brother, Shaquille, until they were forced to move due to a change in their landlord’s circumstances.
Their new residence quickly deteriorated, culminating in the roof collapsing, and they had to move once more when Kinlaw was around 9 or 10 years old. During these difficult times, basic amenities like electricity and running water were often unavailable, and they relied on a neighbor’s hose for water collection and makeshift cooking arrangements.
Kinlaw’s wardrobe was minimal, with new clothes acquired only at the start of the school year. He had to make his clothing last, rotating between a single pair of jeans, a few shorts, a hoodie, and some shirts. Despite these hardships, Kinlaw refrained from complaining or asking for more because he understood the family’s financial constraints.
Growing up in adversity, Kinlaw adapted to their circumstances and didn’t view them as overly distressing. To him, it was a way of life, and he believed they still had good days amidst the challenges. However, as he entered his teenage years, Kinlaw started facing challenges, developing negative habits and occasionally getting into trouble.
In his ninth-grade year, Kinlaw relocated to South Carolina to live with his father, George, seeking an escape from the difficult environment in Northeast Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, the move presented its own set of challenges, including reports of his father’s alcoholism and occasional physical abuse, as well as his father’s girlfriend’s reluctance to have Kinlaw around.
During his senior year in South Carolina, Kinlaw found himself residing with a fellow teammate due to these circumstances. At school, he encountered bullying from older students due to his size, weighing 280 pounds, and his clothing choices. Teachers held doubts about his potential for success, and many people around him were skeptical about his future.
Despite these obstacles, Kinlaw’s journey into football began during his sophomore year at Goose Creek High School in South Carolina as a means to keep himself occupied without getting into trouble. Although he wasn’t initially considered a highly talented player, his size attracted attention from college scouts, ultimately leading to a scholarship offer from the University of South Carolina.
Kinlaw’s struggles extended beyond the football field, with difficulties in academics, effort, and disciplinary issues. Despite these challenges, his coaches recognized that football provided stability in his life and refused to remove him from the team.
Kinlaw’s upbringing had made him naturally defensive and cautious about trusting others, and frequent relocations had hindered his ability to form lasting friendships. However, as he transitioned to Jones College in Mississippi, he began to trust people, especially coaches, marking the start of his transformation and personal growth.
This journey was not without setbacks, but Kinlaw, with guidance from his mentors, formulated a plan to leave Goose Creek and enrolled at Jones College. There, he pursued his GED and earned an associate’s degree, gaining valuable life skills and structure.
Upon leaving Jones, Kinlaw had undergone a remarkable transformation, becoming more disciplined, trusting of others, and committed to his performance on the football field. He also experienced physical growth, allowing him to eat without constraints and further excel in football.
Despite facing adversity and trauma from his early years, Kinlaw’s dedication to self-improvement and his passion for football have led him to the pinnacle of the sport. His performance as a pivotal player for the 49ers this season has been instrumental in their success, and his contributions will be critical as they strive to secure the Lombardi Trophy in the upcoming Super Bowl clash against the Chiefs.