JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Solomon Kindley keeps finding ways to make an impact.
Last February, it was passing out laptops for 66 students in the area.
On Saturday, Kindley, who is entering his second year in the NFL with the Dolphins, was back in his element on the field that he grew up playing on at Raines High School.
Kindley’s goal remains the same — continue to be a positive influence for his community.
“How my mom raised us and how my family raised us, always give back,” he said. “So, it’s a blessing to come back to Raines, not only that, come to the community, get all the kids from all around.”
They came from all over, too.
Kindley and quite a few of his football friends took part in his first football camp Saturday morning. More than 200 players of all ages showed up at the camp to get coached up by a recognizable list of football stars with area ties.
They ran drills. Caught passes. Ran cone drills. Worked on coverage skills. And if any camper hadn’t gotten an extra T-shirt, Kindley walked over and found one for them.
“I want to be remembered as a player off the field as well. No doubt I want to be a great player on the field, but my biggest thing is after football, football’s not always going to be there,” Kindley said. “I want other people to look at me as a good person in the community, a good person, a humble person, giving back. So, that’s my biggest thing, that’s my No. 1 goal.”
If Kindley showing up back in town on a goodwill mission sounds familiar, it should. Last February, Kindley donated laptops to 22 students at Raines, S.P. Livingston Elementary and S.A. Hull Elementary. Those laptop donations added up to Kindley’s jersey number with Miami.
Two of Kindley’s former teammates at Georgia, Giants’ 2020 first-round pick Andrew Thomas and Jaguars second-round pick Tyson Campbell, helped coach offensive linemen and defensive backs, respectively.
“This is great, man, just to be out here and teach these young guys the game of football, and just, having fun with them,” Campbell said. “They got questions. They asked us questions and we gave them little tips about football and life itself. It’s a blessing to be out here. I’m glad Solomon invited me out here and I hope to do the same in my hometown.”
Among other big names helping out were former Mr. Football De’Andre Johnson, former Trinity Christian and Auburn star Jeff Holland and former Raines and University of Miami linebacker Michael Pinckney. Former players enjoyed being a part of the day just as much as the younger athletes.
Johnson, who graduated from First Coast as the all-time leading passer in area history, has a very visible story. He was one of the featured subjects in Season 2 of Netflix’s “Last Chance U” docuseries at East Mississippi Community College.
“A lot of kids out here know me from ‘Last Chance U,’ so they kind of get to see what I’ve gone through, and they ask me some questions and stuff like that,” he said.
“And obviously, that gave me a platform to speak to the kids and you have to understand that I’ve been where they’re trying to go. Whatever advice I give [to them], listen to it or not. But I would say, it just gave me a bridge for the kids, gave me a lane where they listen to what someone who they see they might idolize or someone that they see as a peer, to tell them what’s right from wrong and just to help and guide them in the right direction.”