Devon Kennard: #AthleteAnd Real Estate Investor
By the age of six, Devon Kennard pretty much had his life all figured out – or so he thought.
A year earlier, his dad, Derek, had won the Super Bowl as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, sparking wide-eyed Devon’s dream to also become an NFL player. And after balling out at Desert Vista High School in Arizona and landing a scholarship to Southern Cal, Kennard appeared well on his way. But a string of injuries and inconsistent playing time due to coaching changes forced the linebacker to go back to the drawing board.
“While I was in college, I made a decision about what I wanted my life to look like and things I wanted to have,” Kennard recently recalled. “Even if I have a long NFL career, I’ll be retired in my 30s and still have lots of life left. And if I don’t play in the NFL, I still want to have a life with all of those goals and dreams. So what can I do outside the game to make sure those things still happen?”
Football ended up working out for Kennard – he just completed his seventh season while playing for his home state Arizona Cardinals. And the same can be said for his off-the-field ventures – as a real estate investor, Kennard currently owns 13 properties and is invested in 22 real estate deals across the country.
Before taking part in the third annual #AthleteAnd Workshop, Kennard discussed how finding his identity beyond just football has been vital to maximizing his success on and off the field.
Athletes get approached about investments all of the time, particularly in real estate. What’s helped you navigate those many proposals and opportunities in order to find the right ones?
One thing I found and learned early on was, nobody is going to take better care of your money than you are. Nobody knows your goals or risk tolerance or interests better than you do. So I encourage guys all the time to know where their money is and what it’s going into. My rule of thumb is if you don’t understand it, you shouldn’t invest in it.
When it comes to evaluating deals, it’s important to have a great team around you that you trust, will ask the right questions and isn’t afraid to tell you when you might be wrong. Confidence is slowly built, but confidence comes from competence. The more you understand and get involved, the more competent and confident you’ll be.
I encourage guys all the time to know where their money is and what it’s going into. My rule of thumb is if you don’t understand it, you shouldn’t invest in it.
What’s been your proudest achievement in real estate investment?
For me, it was the first deal because there’s so many people who never pull the trigger. Yes, you have to educate yourself and surround yourself with a good team, but at some point, you also have to shoot your shot. With my first deal, I bought with a friend of mine in 2016. We went to a networking event in Phoenix, made connections with a guy who flips properties in Indianapolis and ended up getting our foot in the door by buying a renovated single-family property out there. We split the down payment and that started building capital for us immediately, and soon we got to the point where families were living in it and paying rent. That was my first exposure to mailbox money [or passive revenue streams, like income from rental properties]. The amount of money wasn’t great, but that didn’t matter. I was in the game now and I built momentum from there.
How do you balance managing your real estate investments with your football career?
It’s very important to keep the main thing the main thing. Football has been a dream of mine since I was six years old and it’s still the main thing. The key is knowing there’s a way to invest that doesn’t demand all of your time. In the offseason, rather than playing video games all the time, I network and meet people to keep the machine rolling. I don’t know how long my career will last or if I’ll get injured. Why not have money from another source so that when the NFL does decide it’s done with you, you’re already generating the same cash flow elsewhere to make a smooth transition to the next chapter of your life.
To you, what does it mean to be an #AthleteAnd?
When I think of #AthleteAnd, it’s the idea that football is what I do, but it’s not who I am. I want to be a person who’s well rounded. I love this game of football and I’m an athlete first; that’s what I do. But there are so many other things in business, philanthropy and family where I want and have found success. People who really stand out are those who can balance their lives and find success in all the roles that they play.
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