Gold Jacket Spotlight: Kevin Mawae found his role models in own family

Gold Jacket Spotlight Published on : 4/15/2024
Growing up, Hall of Famer KEVIN MAWAE looked up to his older brother.

John Mawae and Kevin played together at Louisiana State University, often facing each other on opposite sides of the ball daily at practices — Kevin at center on offensive and John at nose guard on the interior of the defensive line.

Two years into his NFL career, at 25 years old, Kevin learned shocking news: John had died in a car accident. Coming in combination with news that Kevin’s wife, Tracy, was pregnant with their son, Kevin felt a shift in himself.

“Those two moments changed my life, and the direction and purpose of my life forever,” Kevin said in his Enshrinement speech in 2019. “That extreme sorrow followed by great joy, my focus turned to faith.”

Channeling that new purpose, Kevin put together a 16-season career in the National Football League that this week is recalled in the Gold Jacket Spotlight.

“There’s not a day when I go out on the field and don’t think about my brother,” Kevin said in an interview during his playing career. “Part of the reason why I play is for him. He’s up there watching me, and I can carry some of those dreams he had; I can carry them with me.”

After an NFL career that spanned 241 regular-season games and included six first-team All-Pro selections, eight Pro Bowl nods and a spot on the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s, Kevin still had the urge to compete and pass his acquired wisdom along to others. He landed his first coaching job with the Chicago Bears in 2016 and from there would coach all levels, professional, college, high school and youth.

During that time, Kevin filled his passion for his Christian faith and competition and served as a role model for the players he coached. He taught young athletes the importance of understanding their purpose while also succeeding at the highest level.

“Eighty percent of a young athlete’s life is spent with his coaches,” Kevin said in a 2019 interview while coaching at Arizona State University. “I will spend more time with them in one semester than his parents will. The kids watch [us] as father figures, male figures, role models, how do I treat my wife and daughter in front of these young men.”

Kevin called his father his greatest role model.

Sgt. 1st Class David Mawae served for a total of 23 years in the U.S. Army and was stationed at several bases across the globe. His father’s tough love and discipline helped Kevin become the man he was during his NFL career, he said in his Enshrinement speech, and the kind of person he strives to be each day.

A line Kevin continues to reiterate comes from his father:

“If you’re going to do something, do it the right way the first time. And if it’s worth doing, don’t do it half-assed.”