Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright has always suspected that as a professional athlete in the United States, he has it pretty good.
But just how good came into clearer focus during a trip to Africa last summer, one that also instilled in Wright a desire to want to do something to help some of the people he met along the way.
That led to Wright’s announcement this week that he plans to donate $300 for every tackle he makes this season to help build two water wells in Kenya (Wright also announced the initiative on his Facebook page ). Wright hopes that through his own donations and those of others that he can raise $50,000 to build the two wells.
“When I was there, I noticed this young girl had dirty, brown water,” Wright said Thursday. “So, I just wanted to help this community. The young ladies have to walk many miles twice a day just to bring back water, and when they do get the water, it’s not even clean. Millions of people suffer from easy access to it and I just want to bless this community that blessed me.”
Wright made the trip to Africa with former teammates Byron Maxwell, Malcolm Smith and Mike Morgan and said he plans to go back next year.
Wright said the wells he wants to build are in the Maasai Mara national reserve at a school that he visited while he was there.
Wright said each well would cost around $20,000.
“So I just want to get 50 (thousand dollars) to stay on the safe side,” he said. “To get a well built in this community would take a lot of stress off of a lot of people. I think you just go there, get water that you can drink, that you could clean clothes with, that you can bathe in. It’ll be a beautiful thing once we do get it done.”
Wright, who joined the Seahawks in 2011, has often used his time off to broaden his horizons. He attended the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, and in 2017 traveled to Alaska during the team’s bye week.
Wright, a native of Olive Branch, Miss., said he didn’t initially think of the trip to Africa (he also visited Tanzania and Dubai) as anything more than a sightseeing venture.
“I just went to Africa just to have a good time,” he said. “I wanted to experience it, I wanted to take a safari, I wanted to go to the ocean and this is just something that just sparked. Once I saw it, it just touched my heart. Me and the guys talked about it when I was out there, we were like, ‘Man, I got to do something for this community.’”
Wright said while he was there, he was given a Swahili name by some of the locals that translated to hope.
“I don’t know if they give everybody these names, but I really took that to heart, the one that gives hope,” he said. “I kind of feel like that’s been my purpose my entire life was: help people, help people reach their full potential and just to give back because life is bigger than us, it’s bigger than K.J. When I can leave this world a better place, I’ve done my job, so we’ve got to make that happen.”
Wright said he initially planned to donate $250 per tackle. But after missing six games with a knee injury he decided to up the ante. According to the Seahawks, Wright has raised roughly $8,000 already through his own donations (he had five tackles against the Lions Sunday) and those of others.
“It’s just good people,” he said. ” They don’t have much, but they’re so happy. They’re just so happy. I look at myself, I get mad when the Wi-Fi is not working on the plane and these people are suffering from (lack of) water. So, it really just put life in perspective to show you what’s real and how blessed we are and how some people are less fortunate than us, so it’s a good experience.”