Keion Carpenter hasn’t forgotten his Baltimore roots. The former National Football League defensive back has been dedicated to helping improve the lives of local youths.
Saturday at Woodlawn High, Carpenter’s alma mater, he’s hosting an all-star youth football competition featuring teams from the District, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Baltimore. It’s part of Carpenter’s Shutdown Academy youth organization.
“For me to be able to fulfill my dreams, I think I owe it to my community,” said Carpenter who played for Buffalo and Atlanta during his eight-year career after starring at Virginia Tech University. “If we did what we supposed to do, watch out for the kids and the people in your neighborhood, the world would be a better place.”
Shutdown Academy is an afterschool program offering tutoring, mentoring and sports for boys’ and girls’ from five years old to 14. Basketball, cheerleading , football, lacrosse and track and field are the activities offered.
Carpenter said there’s intramurals to encourage kids to “get off the video games,” and promote an active lifestyle. His main goal is establishing a solid foundation for college.
“We have several hundred kids off the street between 4 to 8 [p.m.] in a structured learning environment,” Carpenter said. “Academics first, athletics second.”
That point was driven home Friday evening in a symposium in Woodlawn High’s audiotorium as Carpenter, a 1994 first-team All-Met defensive back, New York Jet linebacker Aaron Maybin (Mount Hebron), City College grad Bryant Johnson (Houston Texans) and former New York Jets wide out Tavon Mason (Woodlawn) discussed their paths to college. The quartet talked about the commitment required as a student athlete in college and managing time on the professional level.
Michael Vick, a former teammate of Carpenter’s in Atlanta who’s the current starting quarterback for Philadelphia, will be at Woodlawn Saturday with his youth squads from Central Virginia. Last year, Carpenter traveled to Atlanta with his Shutdown Academy youngsters for a football event with former Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis and Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders.
Carpenter will again take several area youths back to Atlanta later this summer for another football event, and visit Georgia Tech, Morehouse and Georgia State universities.
“All these kids may not end up in the NFL, but there’s a college for all of them,” said Carpenter. If we can put the student back in the front of the athlete, a lot of kids from this area will get accepted to college.”
Shutdown Academy Pre-season All-Star Youth Football Bowl
When: Saturday June 23 & Sunday June 24
Where: Woodlawn High (Kevin Liles Stadium)
10 a.m. – D.C. 14-under vs. New York
11:30 a.m. – Shutdown Academy 10-under vs. Central Virginia Elite
1 p.m. – Patuxent 12-under vs. New Jersey
2:30 p.m. – Shutdown Academy 14-under vs. New Jersey
4 p.m. – Team Maryland 10-under vs. New York
5:30 p.m. – Shutdown Academy 12-under vs. Central Virginia Elite