By Connor Stange, Nebraska Media Relations
Be a man. That’s the motto of senior wide receiver Kenny Bell, but it was a woman who shaped who he is today.
“My No. 1 inspiration in life is my mom,” Bell said. “I’ve got an amazing mother who raised my eldest sister and me by herself for a long time. To see the strength and perseverance it took from my mom was inspiring to say the least. She influences me to this day into the man I’ve become and the person I am.”
Bell was raised in Boulder, Colo., the hometown of the Colorado Buffaloes.
“I love Colorado,” Bell said. “Anyone who knows me knows I love where I’m from. I love Boulder. That’s where I want to live. The timing really wasn’t right (when I was starting college). At the time I wasn’t really heavily recruited.”
Then Bell met Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini and liked everything that the Huskers had to offer.
“They offered me a coaching staff that could take me where I couldn’t take myself,” Bell said. “They offered a fan base that loved football. I’m not from somewhere that loves football. Lastly, just the commitment to academics. It’s pretty simple for me. It wasn’t a hard choice as far as those three things that I was really looking for in a university. I definitely got it here at Nebraska.”
Five years after taking his first unofficial visit to Nebraska, Bell is climbing up several of the school’s career receiving charts, but the senior said that’s not how he wants to be remembered.
“I could care less about the accolades and the statistics and the number of wins and the number of starts,” he said. “I want to be remembered for the type of person I am, not how many touchdowns I scored. I want to be remembered for someone who took the time to shake hands and share conversations rather than sign autographs and score points.”
One thing most fans will remember him for is his afro. Bell started growing it in August of 2008 when he was in high school, and he had no idea it would be this big of a deal among the Husker fan base.
“It was just a hairdo for me,” Bell said. “I just got too lazy to cut my hair for a while. I was bald for a lot of my life because my mom hated when I had long hair. What it’s grown into is my image. I think with my image comes my character and my personality. My hair is fun and it’s outgoing and it’s carefree, and I think that embodies what I am as a person.”
Bell has also built his image over the last four years from his Twitter presence @AFRO_THUNDER80. He said he made fun of Twitter for a long time before joining the site as a redshirt freshman.
“I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into,” Bell said. “But now as it has grown, it gives me an opportunity to share my thoughts and opinions. I’m not shy. I don’t shy away from what I believe in or my opinion. It’s given me the opportunity to have a voice and a way to communicate with fans, which has been pretty awesome for me actually.”
As his career at Nebraska comes to a close, Bell reflects on his time, noting its the people and the connections forged that he appreciates most.
“I love and appreciate the fans more than they will ever know. It’s been an amazing ride, and I’m really sad to see it come to a close, but I truly appreciate the people that love and support me.”
Favorite pro athlete?
Yoga and meditation
Superpower you would want?
The ability to gain all knowledge from a book just by touching it
Favorite college class?
African-American History, Post Civil War
My mother’s chicken broccoli casserole