He's a humble, generous person who's also strong-minded and resilient. On the field, he plays tough, disciplined, determined football. Charm City, meet Kamar Aiken.
What You Might Know:
- Six –* *That's the number of times Aiken has been cut from a team over the past five years. (This figure includes time on either a team's 53-man roster or practice squad.) Before finding a home in Baltimore in December of 2013 – when the Ravens signed him off New England's practice squad – Aiken originally joined the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2011. In five seasons, he has been a member of four NFL teams (Buffalo, 2011-12), Chicago (2012), New England (2012-13) and Baltimore (2013-15).
- Aiken's breakout performance came during the 2014 campaign, when he registered six catches for 65 yards and one touchdown in Baltimore's 28-13 win at Miami. That day proved to be a long-awaited, emotional homecoming of sorts, as Aiken actually grew up several miles from Sun Life Stadium.
- Many might assume that Aiken's most memorable football moment would be the 2014 Miami game. However, that's not the case. His most beloved gridiron memory is of the 19-yard touchdown catch he made in the Ravens' divisional playoff game at New England later that year.
"It was a crucial point in the game and season – particularly because it was during our playoff run. It was really special, because New England is where I last played before coming to Baltimore."
What You Don't Know:
- After being released from the Bears' practice squad in 2012 – the fourth time he was cut from a team in 14 months – Aiken was prepared to quit football for good.
"There was a breaking point when I was released from Chicago. It was just so emotionally draining. But, I talked to my family, and they told me to suck it up and to enjoy the ride. They told me to keep believing in myself and to block out the outside noise. I've been doing that ever since." * In the summer of 2014, Aiken took part in shadowing/internship programs with the Secret Service and FBI. When his football career concludes, he could potentially see himself pursuing a career in federal law enforcement.
"The internships were all really neat. The Secret Service was probably most surprising, because I didn't know how time consuming it was. You are basically on their time, all the time. There are so many different fields involved, too. Usually, people think the Secret Service is just for protecting the country's president. But they also focus on currency counterfeiting, cyber terrorism and protection of religious leaders. They really do a lot." * Aiken enjoys deep-sea scuba diving and is officially certified to do so. His favorite excursions have been in St. Lucia and the Dominican Republic.
"I am an adrenaline junkie, and I have a great deal of respect for the ocean. My adrenaline rushes when I'm below the water's surface and I see a fish half my size."
What You Need to Know:
- Aiken holds an annual football camp for underprivileged youth, specifically focusing on children who are in foster care. From about the age of 5 to 7, Aiken spent time in foster homes. Because of this, he has made it a priority to serve those who currently face challenges he too encountered as a child.
"I really enjoy doing the football camp, because I can relate to those kids. I feel like I have a connection and responsibility to them. I grew up like they are growing up – spending time in the foster care system." * Steve Smith Sr. is the NFL player Aiken most admires, and he feels blessed to have crossed paths with the 15-year NFL veteran – especially at this stage of their respective careers.
"At 36, Steve still approaches ever day like he is a rookie. He's really taught me how to approach everything you do – be it practice, taking care of your body or work in the classroom." * Over the past two seasons as a Raven, Aiken has recorded 37 receptions for 455 yards and five touchdowns (including playoffs). An impressive 67.6 percent of his catches have earned first downs, the highest percentage among all wideouts on Baltimore's 2015 roster. Additionally, Aiken has been a dependable red zone target, as all five of his scores have come when the Ravens are inside an opponent's 20-yard line. In last week's overtime thriller at Pittsburgh, Aiken recorded a game-high 77 receiving yards and one touchdown on five catches.