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The Lions are getting an awesome person in LB Devon Kennard

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Devon Kennard sounds like a great human being.

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One of the most enjoyable parts of free agency is just getting to know the new players on your favorite team. While most of the attention is focused on the role these players will be assuming on the field and how good they are, it’s also fun to get to know these players as human beings.

And for linebacker Devon Kennard, who will reportedly sign a three-year deal with the Detroit Lions, it’s already been a pleasure getting to know the guy via stories from his days with the New York Giants.

From the beginning of his football career at USC, Kennard was commended for his smarts just as much as his football skills. According to his USC profile, Kennard twice made the Pac-12 All-Academic second team. But he also began his philanthropic career while at USC:

He and 15 of his USC teammates spent 5 days in Haiti in the spring of 2012 building homes and assisting those in need. He was selected to be one of USC’s representatives at the 2011 APPLE (Athletic Prevention Programming and Leadership Education) Conference in Austin, Tex., designed to promote student-athlete health and wellness.

That only continued after Kennard was selected by the Giants in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He has focused his community efforts on education, specifically with reading programs.

In 2017, once a week—during the season, mind you—Kennard spent a day at New City Kids, an after school program targeted towards children in low-income homes. And while some pro athletes just show up for a photo op, Kennard is changing lives:

“They love when he sits at their tutoring table or gives them a high five and sits and reads with them,” Stiritz said. “For the high school students, it goes a little bit deeper. It’s about Devon’s story of where he grew up and going to college. Getting his master’s degree resonates deeply with them and can provide a pathway for them to see their own futures.”

You can tell from this video that Kennard really cares about these kids, and, better yet, he knows how to relate to them, too.

His off-the-field efforts even landed him a profile in the New York Times. Take this snippet and try not to fall in love with Kennard:

Gomez said: “I was screen-shotting these things to show people, ‘Look! He’s responding.’ I made copies. So that they can know, this person could be an N.F.L. player, but he’s not too good to talk with you.”

Kennard also promised to mail autographed memorabilia to those who gave insightful answers to questions. Max Moore, a senior at Southern Connecticut State University, received a signed T-shirt and a photo. But he appreciated even more that Kennard prompted him to read Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird’’ a second time.

He also comes off as incredibly humble. When he entered the NFL, he didn’t want to lavishly spend on a new car. Instead, he kept the car he had been driving since age 16: A 2005 Kia Sorento.

So while Kennard’s ability to contribute on the field for the Lions remains up for debate, there’s little doubt that Detroit is getting a really good person in Kennard.