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In The Know: Kelechi Osemele


He is relentless – a player known not only for his dominant stature, but also the ferocity with which he competes. But there's another side to this Raven. It's one of insightful, reflective and open-minded significance. Charm City, meet Kelechi Osemele.

What You Might Know...

  • Kelechi's parents, Paul and Imelda Osemele, were born in Nigeria, but moved to the U.S. to attend college. After having three daughters, the couple yearned for a boy they could bring into the world. In 1989, the future offensive lineman was born. Filled with gratefulness and blessings, the parents named their new son "Kelechi," meaning "Thank God" in Igbo, which is a language native to Nigeria. (The family's last name translates into "ancient warrior.")
  • Growing up in Houston, Texas, Kelechi dreamed of playing collegiately at one of the state's powerhouse programs. However, "K.O." drew limited interest from those schools. Instead of remaining in the Lone Star State, Osemele attended Iowa State, where he regularly earned Academic Honor Roll distinction and played in 49 games (making 43-consecutive starts to close out his time there).
  • Following his standout career at ISU, Baltimore selected Osemele in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft.  K.O. made an immediate impact for the Ravens, starting all 16 regular-season contests at right tackle and then four playoff games at left guard during the Super Bowl XLVII Championship run. Over the past four seasons, he has started all 52 games in which he's played and has emerged into one of the NFL's top linemen.

"I always thought I could play professionally," Osemele says. "That was my mindset. I really knew I could make it to the NFL my junior year [of college] when I was playing against guys like Adrian Clayborn, Aldon Smith and Von Miller."* *

What You Don't Know...

  • The "non-football" individual Osemele most admires is President Barack Obama. In fact, when the Ravens were invited to the White House in 2013 following their Super Bowl victory, K.O. experienced what he ranks as his "No. 1 moment" in life.

"I like the President's charisma and his background," Osemele states. "He doesn't come from a wealthy family. His father is African, just like my father is African. He has overcome so much and persevered to become the man that he is. When I met him at the White House, I could barely breathe. I've never been the type to be star-struck by anybody, but that was the one time I really was."

  • Osemele says that writing is one of his hidden talents. At least once a week, he spends time composing pieces that range from philosophy to song lyrics.

"It all depends on the mood I'm in," he notes. "I don't think I'd do it as a job or in front of the world; it's very personal."

  • K.O.'s simple pleasure is reading, specifically literature that presents a different way of looking at life. He most recently enjoyed "The Aleph" by Paulo Coelho, who is an international award-winning Brazilian lyricist and novelist.

"It's very spiritual. I like to read books about the road less traveled – all the different ways to do things and to think."

What You Need To Know...

  • From Day One of his Baltimore arrival, Osemele looked up to a six-time Pro Bowl center who quickly became a mentor both on and off the field. That person was Matt Birk – someone who challenged K.O. to thrive intellectually and athletically.

"He is the Raven I most admire," Osemele states. "Matt got me reading the types of books that really make you think and open your perspectives. I respect how adamantly he stands up for what he believes, regardless of what anybody thinks. He's confident in his way of doing things."

  • Birk, who now serves as the NFL's Director of Football Development, has high praise for Osemele and reflects fondly on their time together.

"The first thing I admired about K.O. was how physically dominating he was. You rarely see that in the NFL, much less from a rookie. He was fearless. The NFL stage was never too big for him. I also admire that he is his own man. He is very comfortable in his own skin, very comfortable with himself. K.O. has quiet strength about him and was mature beyond his years. He was a great teammate; I loved going to battle with him. Anyone can play center in between K.O. and Marshal Yanda."

  • Once again, Osemele is playing at a high level this season. But while K.O. is particularly known for his brute strength and aggressive approach, Baltimore O-line coach Juan Castillo says the 6-foot-5, 330-pounder has elevated his game in another area.

"I'm really proud of K.O. for how he's worked on his techniques, pass protections, staying square and using good hand placement," notes Castillo. "We've always known that he has tenacity and does a good job finishing, but the biggest things this year are his fundamentals. They have made him a consistent player."

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