Nolan Catholic coach David Beaudin said it best last week during an All-American jersey presentation for his star defensive end NaNa Osafo-Mensah. “We couldn’t have asked for a better representative in every way.”
Not because of what the 4-star senior Notre Dame commit does on the football field, but more so what he does off it.
Jacoby Kemp is a surviving twin, born at 25 weeks, autistic and has moderate cerebral palsy.
But this bright 7-year-old is a huge sports fan and a bigger NaNa Osafo-Mensah fan.
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“He watched NaNa’s commitment video and Jacoby has an obsession with different colleges so we were traveling up north and detoured through South Bend and that’s where the NaNa obsession began,” mother Amanda Kemp said. “As parents, it’s a dream come true. To see how happy Jacoby is, and to see someone have a positive impact means a lot.”
Osafo-Mensah loves to help the community and loves to give back too.
He has spent time volunteering with special Olympics and more recently the Miracle League of Arlington, a baseball league for kids with disabilities, and that’s where he met Jacoby.
“I was helping out and I heard Jacoby yelling my name. So I went over to him and started talking to him and he said he was my biggest fan and that he was a Notre Dame guy,” Osafo-Mensah said. “He said he had seen my plays and it felt great. To see what I’m doing and to see Jacoby smile is a warm feeling.”
“Nothing surprises me with NaNa anymore,” Beaudin added. “He has a way about connecting with everyone. I haven’t seen anything like it. Jacoby lights up around NaNa and it gives us joy, and it’s so uplifting for the team.”
But there’s an even better connection that all parties didn’t know they had.
Nolan Catholic defensive coordinator Jordan Hampton’s wife delivered Jacoby.
“It’s a small world,” father Jeremy Kemp said. “Jacoby loves to make connections and he has stuck with NaNa. It’s been awesome. It’s more than we can ask for. We appreciate the Nolan Catholic family.”
“It made that connection even more special,” added Beaudin. “NaNa puts others before him and this is just another example involving a great young man that makes everyone smile.”
Nolan Catholic (9-1), which takes on Dallas Parish Episcopal (8-3), 3 p.m. Saturday at Gopher-Warrior Bowl, let Jacoby join practice on Nov. 15 and Beaudin let him run some plays.
“It’s good to help others. The least I can do is give back to people I don’t know and people I just met,” Osafo-Mensah said. “It’s inspiring to see Jacoby and makes me go out there and have fun. I know what it’s like, I was little and looked up to my favorite players so I know what he’s feeling and I just want to be the best role model I can be.”