Kenneth Horsey: “Nobody creates a legacy by fitting in.”


UK offensive lineman Kenneth Horsey speaks to the media on Monday, June 14, 2021.

Hunter Shelton

“Nobody creates a legacy by fitting in.” 

These words spoken by Kentucky offensive lineman Kenneth Horsey put a stamp on a powerful speech given by the 6’3” 300-pound junior Monday morning.  

Horsey has been through hell-and-back since April 1 2018, a day that he will remember for the rest of his life.  

After what he thought was out-of-the-blue stomach pain turned into a 9-1-1 call and a swarm of tests and scans, Horsey was diagnosed with endocarditis, an infection on a heart valve that is caused by bacteria. 

Just two days later, a decision was made by Horsey’s parents to move forward with open-heart surgery on the mitral valve, putting Horsey’s football career in jeopardy. 

Luckily, physicians were able to remove the growth on Horsey’s heart without causing any damage to the mitral valve and repaired his sternum with titanium plates.  

After Horsey began to return to better health, it was time to head to Lexington to begin his college football career in the bluegrass.  

Fast forward to the beginning of 2021, Horsey was named one of three 2020 Mayo Clinic Comeback Players of the Year 

While still being able to have the luxury of once again focusing on football, Horsey is now using his platform to help educate others about the importance of heart health. 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Kentucky and the Commonwealth has one of the highest rates in the country. Cardiac arrest is a common result of heart disease, and according to the American Heart Association, more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in the United States each year. When someone undergoes cardiac arrest, the chance of survival goes down by 10% for every minute they do not receive CPR. 

Hands-Only CPR training is a part of the message that Horsey is giving 

“It is very simple. We literally learned this in less than five minutes, and not only is it quick and easy, but it can save somebody’s life,” Horsey said.  

“Unfortunately, these are never things you learn until you go through them, so if we can spread awareness and teach the basics of heart health, I feel like I’ve done my job.” 

Horsey understands that sharing his story and spreading his message will only benefit others: 

“When I spoke with the American Heart Association for the first time, that’s when it really clicked with me that I could use my platform and I can use my story, not as a reason of why I’m living but a reason as to why I am the man I am today.” 

“I’m glad that I’m able to use my message to uplift and to help others instead of keeping this story to myself.” Horsey continued. “I know I’m not the only one who’s been through this or who will go through this.” 

Not only has Horsey’s story provided a new outlook on life, it’s provided him a new outlook on the game he loves. 

“I learned very quickly that as fast as God can bless you, God can take those blessings away,” Horsey said. “Football is already hard enough to where doing it at this level, you got to do it because you love it or you really want to do it.” 

As Horsey made his way back to the gridiron, he was alongside the instant support from his coaches and teammates, something that played a massive part in his return. 

“The guys were pushing me and supporting me through every step of it,” Horsey said. “They didn’t let me slack, they didn’t ever let me limit myself, no matter what I needed they were there for me.” 

“As a student-athlete, it’s not very common that we like to talk about when we are in pain or when we are going through something,” Horsey explained. “An important step of this healing process was being honest, making sure that everyone knew how I was feeling.” 

While Horsey appreciates the support and concern from his BBN family, he knows that once the pads go on, there’s only one thing on their mind: 

“Once you step into this facility, it’s mainly about business. When we’re here, we’re trying to get to Atlanta,” Horsey said.  

Football aside, Kenneth Horsey knows he will leave behind a story. Regardless of how great of a player he becomes, he represents a mentality that cannot be broken, knowing that things will get better no matter how bad they may seem. 

“I went from on the surgery table to running out on that field with the starters, so you can’t tell me it isn’t possible,” Horsey explained.  

No matter what, keep fighting, keep pushing, keep praying because it’s all going to work out how God wants it to.”