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  • Elliot Goldenberg

Like Father, Like Son

Drafted by the NFL’s San Diego Chargers, Kenny Berry is proud that he was a starting defensive back for the University of Miami and played on the 1989 team that won the school’s third national championship. Today an ordained minister, he is equally proud of his son, Damien Berry, who also played for the “U,” and was signed, in 2011, as a free agent running back by the Baltimore Ravens.

We caught up with both of them on the morning of the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

Q: Kenny, I know that today you’re an ordained minister. Do you have a title, and where, exactly, is your church?

A: I’m the senior pastor at the Grace Fellowship Worship Center. It’s in Belle Glade, Florida.

Q: I’m sure you’re proud of all of your children, but what makes you especially proud of your son, Damien?

A: Damien has great character. He’s a stand up man, and a God-fearing man. And he’s very humble and hard working. It hasn’t always been easy for him, and he always had to prove himself. So I’m especially proud of his work ethic.

Q: Did you encourage or discourage Damien from playing football?

A: I never discouraged him, but football was never discussed at home. In fact, the first time I ever threw a football at him, he was already in the tenth grade. But he was around football because I was coaching. Actually, he was more into playing soccer.

Q: Kenny, do your other children play sports?

A: All my kids are athletes. I have an older son who played professional basketball overseas – and he’s now a Little League basketball coach. I have a daughter who was a star athlete both in basketball and track. And I have another son who we’re trying to get to play football at the “U.”

Q: I know your son, Damien, tore his ACL in high school, but somehow played through the injury. Did you ever have a major injury, either in high school, college or the pros?

A: I once tore up my ankle pretty bad, but that was about it. My college coach, Jimmy Johnson, made sure we were always very well conditioned, which I’m sure helped.

Q: Kenny, tell me about your charitable foundation.

A: It’s called Grace Kids for Life, and it teaches kids skills for life. There’s a five part component: spirituality, educational needs, life skills, employability skills, and athletics. Damien also has his own foundation called DB for Kids. It serves kids in elementary schools and includes a “Read to Ride” program.

Q: What about your camp?

A: It’s a “Skills Camp,” held in Wellington. Next year, we’ll also have one in Belle Glade. A lot of retired players – like Steve Walsh, Lamar Thomas and James Pruitt – will be there to help.

Q: Damien, what do you most admire about your dad?

A: I admire everything about him. He keeps me on track – and he showed me how to be a man.

Q: Was it difficult to follow in your father’s footsteps?

A: I really had to create my own footsteps – because I wanted to be known as Damien Berry, not just the son of Kenny Berry.

Q: Damien, with your livelihood always in jeopardy does the NFL draft worry you, especially if the Ravens take another running back?

A: No. You just have to work hard, believe in yourself, and be confident in what you can do.

Q: Tell me about DB for Kids.

A: It’s to help underprivileged kids who are struggling. It’s to let them know that, if they’re having a bad day, things could be worse. We want them to know that dreams can come true.

To find out more about Kenny Berry’s foundation, his skills camp, or Damien’s DB for Kids, please call the ExpoZur Sports Management at 561-391-5065 and ask for either Dana Lee Csutoros or V. Bernard Jones.

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Grace For Life Youth Foundation 233 W. Avenue A, Suite B, Belle Glades, FL 33430

561-516-4656 | EIN# 45-4116927

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