Kentucky offensive guard Kenneth Horsey knows a thing or two about hearts. The 6’3″ 300 lbs. junior was diagnosed with endocarditis, a dangerous infection on a heart valve, the spring before his freshman season and had to undergo open-heart surgery. Now fully recovered and a starter on Kentucky’s Big Blue Wall, Horsey is teaming up with the American Heart Association to teach Hands-Only CPR. This morning, he opened up about his story in a press conference with representatives from the AHA, UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute, and UK HealthCare.
“At first, I didn’t want to be the guy that was known for having heart surgery,” Horsey said. “When this happened to me, it was three weeks before prom so at times I felt like, if I was known for this, I wouldn’t fit in, but what I realized from Coach Stoops, from Coach Schlarman — Rest in Peace — is that nobody creates a legacy by fitting in. Nobody is remembered for fitting in. Nobody has a story for fitting in. Nobody is special for fitting in. It’s not my job to fit in; it’s my job to be myself and myself is Kenneth Horsey, student-athlete, brother, son, friend, football player, scholar who just happens to be a heart survivor.”
In January, Horsey was named one of three Mayo Comeback Players of the Year. Today, he said his comeback would not have been possible without his teammates, specifically his fellow members of the Big Blue Wall.
“They didn’t let me slack. They didn’t let me ever limit myself to the things I went through. A big thing I had to learn is once the doctors said I was recovered, I was able to officially do the things the other guys can do, but like with any other injury, there’s going to be that slight hesitation of, oh no, what if it happens again? I definitely had the full support of my teammates every step of the way.”
Thankfully, Horsey said he hasn’t had any complications in his recovery. Last season, he started all eight games in which he dressed. In January, he told his story to promote the Central Kentucky Heart Walk campaign.
“I remember when I was first in my recovery, I felt myself asking God, why? Why is this happening to me? …When I spoke at the American Heart Association for the first time, that’s when it really clicked with me that I could use my platform and I can use my story not as a reason of why I’m limited, but as a reason of why I am the man I am today.”
“If we can spread awareness and teach just the basics of heart health, I feel like I’ve done my job and I feel like I’ve committed to the goals of spreading awareness and saving lives.”
For more on Horsey’s remarkable journey, I’ll direct you to this excellent profile by Nick Roush:
You can see today’s press conference below, along with videos from UK showing Horsey and his teammates learning Hands-On CPR from Jacob Stone, director of cardiac rehab at UK HealthCare Gill Heart & Vascular Institute.
“It is very simple. We literally learned this in less than five minutes, and not only is it quick and easy, but it can save somebody’s life,” Horsey said. “We are in a time right now where people need to be able to rely on one another. Having that CPR training in your back pocket is an important skill that I am thankful to know.”
UK HealthCare, the UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute, UK Athletics, UK Football and the American Heart Association are coming together to teach hands-only CPR. https://t.co/RgtklHURne
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) June 14, 2021