From Hamtramck to the NFL: How Kalen King Turned His Dreams into a Reality


By: Omar Thabet

If you lived in Hamtramck the past 15-20 years then you probably have seen two twin brothers training, running all across the streets of Joseph Campau and into the parks, early in the morning or late at night, so that they can play the game that they love: football. 

The twin brothers I am referring to is Kalen and Kobe King. TaDarrell King, Kalen and Kobe’s father, was probably the one you seen training them.

Mr. King always put in the extra work with his sons because he knew that they can become something special one day. Years later, TaDarrell’s son Kobe is about to begin his senior year at Penn State University, where he plans to be one of the starting linebackers for the team.

His other son Kalen was one of the starting cornerbacks for Penn State, but he decided to leave college a year early so that he can enter into the NFL Draft. 

On Saturday, April 27th, Kalen’s life-long dream finally came true when the Green Bay Packers selected the former Hamtramck resident with the 255th pick of the NFL Draft.

Kalen King played cornerback at Penn State University for 3 years before declaring for the NFL Draft.


Get to know Kalen King

Kalen King was born and raised in the city of Hamtramck. He attended Hanley International academy for elementary and middle school, Cass Tech for High School, and Penn State for college.

When asked what was it like growing up in the Hamtramck/Detroit area, Kalen said, “Growing up here allowed me to meet a lot of different people from diverse backgrounds. I was able to network and connect with people I never would have been able to if I had grown up in another city.”

Kalen and Kobe graduated out of Cass Tech in 3 ½ years. Kalen finished his high school career with a 3.4 gpa.  

During their senior year of high school, Kalen and Kobe were faced with the tough decision of what college they should attend. They eventually elected to go to Penn State, but that wasn’t an easy decision for the twin brothers. Both Kalen and Kobe received dozens of D-1 football offers to play elsewhere throughout the country, including offers from in state universities such as Michigan and Michigan State.

Ultimately, it was the coaching staff at Penn State that won over the King brothers. 

“They just had a bunch of genuine guys on their coaching staff,” Kalen said.

Kalen finished his tenure with Penn State with a 3.0 GPA. He also received All-Big Ten and All-American Honors while playing cornerback for the team. 

Even though the Nittany Lions never had the chance to play for a National Championship, Kalen still believes his time at Penn State was “nothing but blessings.”

Kobe (left) and Kalen (right) are twin brothers who played college football together for Penn State University. Kobe and Kalen have been playing football together their whole lives.


Draft Day

Entering his junior season at Penn State, some NFL experts had Kalen King projected to go in the first or second round of the draft.

As the first and second day of the draft went by though, Kalen’s name was not called, and it was safe to say he was a little disappointed.

“Those were the worst three days of my life,” Kalen said, referring to the 3-day NFL draft period that took place in Detroit, Michigan from April 25th-27th.

“Just watching the draft the whole time and waiting for my name to be called. It wasn’t a great feeling.”

Once the 7th round came around, Kalen’s name was finally called, as the Green Bay Packers selected the 5’11 corner out of Penn State.

Current NFL players and NFL analysts are already calling Kalen King one of the steals of the draft.

We asked Kalen does he feel like he has a chip on his shoulder after being drafted later than expected? He said, “I wrote down every name of every corner back that was chosen before me. I was actually the last cornerback drafted in this class. So yes, I feel like it there is definitely a permanent chip on my shoulder.”

We then asked Kalen what is he looking forward to the most with playing for an historic franchise like the Green Bay Packers? He said, “I’m excited that I am given the opportunity to continue to live out my dream. It’s a new chapter in my life; a new area, a new city, lots of new people. I love the game so much, I’m just most excited about just playing it.”

Kalen King (#34) took part in rookie mini camp for the Green Bay Packers.


Families Matter

Kalen would be the first one to tell you that he couldn’t get to this point in his life without the backing of his family.

When asked who does he want to thank the most for their support throughout his journey, Kalen said, “Definitely my mom, dad and brother. It has been us four throughout this this whole journey. Shoutout to my mom, dad and brother for staying the course.”

We then caught up with Felicia King, Kalen’s mother, and asked her what made her most proud of Kalen throughout his journey? She said, “What makes me most proud of my son is seeing all of his hard work payoff. I just want him to maintain his dignity, work hard and continue to do what he loves and make meaningful relationships.”

We then asked Mr. King what does he want to see from his son Kalen in the future. He said, “I want Kalen to be great, to be amongst the elite players in the game and to be one of the best to ever do it!”

Kalen closed out the interview by giving advice to anyone who wanted to play at the professional level.

His advice was, “Everybody’s journey is different. What one person might be going through right now is not the same journey that you’re going to have. Focus on yourself. Focus on getting better. Do not worry about what others have, just focus on yourself and run your own race at your own pace.”

Congratulations Kalen King on getting it to the NFL. Keep making everyone proud!


Full OZ Media Interview with Kalen King is here:

Kalen King Interview