Vikings Pro Bowl linebacker Eric Kendricks is using his creative talents to help make a difference during this difficult time. Kendricks has been painting as a hobby for a while, and at the end of March he decided to start selling his art to raise money for COVID-19 relief.
Kendricks sells each painting for $1,000, and then matches the price for a $2,000 donation to a food bank of the buyer's choice.
"I know the price is high, but this is really to try to help people give back to others who need help in their cities," Kendricks said on Instagram. "I’m gonna find ways to give away more paintings in the future."
Here are a few of the paintings Kendricks has sold via his Instagram.
“I spend a lot of my time during quarantine obviously doing what everybody else does – Instagram, video games," Kendricks said in a video made by the NFL. "The best days, honestly, are the days I just paint all day. Hours will just go by listening to music and painting."
Kendricks grew up in Clovis, CA, a suburb of Fresno. As a kid, he attended Bullard Talent School, a magnet school that focuses on the arts. He said he used to paint all the time until his career as an athlete really began to take off in high school. "As I got further in my career, college, I missed that creative side I used to just explore often," he said.
In 2019, Kendricks got back into painting, an activity that helps him "re-focus, relax a little bit, get my mind off things." Since the coronavirus pandemic started, it has turned into something that helps him give back.
Kendricks has always made an effort to help out in the community. He has worked extensively with Sheridan Story, a Minneapolis organization that gives food to children in need. But with Kendricks stuck in quarantine and unable to be as involved in the community as usual, he figured out a different way to help out.
"I was just sitting here painting, obviously I can’t go out and do as much as I want to do, so I was like ‘man, maybe I should sell these, match the money that I sell them for and give it back to food banks,'" Kendricks said. "It was kind of nerve-wracking at first because I was painting for myself and kind of just having fun with it, and I didn’t really want to put myself out there like ‘here, I’m an artist, I’m going to sell my paintings,’ but I decided to use my platform to try to raise money for COVID-19."
"It’s super important to give to others. We can all think of some time when we were down and out, and someone either gave us a helping hand to get us up off the ground or gave us food to eat. I can relate to that personally, so now I’m just doing it to help everybody, help the fans, friends, family. You never know who might need it.”
This pandemic has affected millions of families around the world, and Kendricks' family is among those. He lost a grandfather to the virus a few weeks ago and has dealt with the pain of losing a family member and not being able to go see them during their final days because of necessary precautions.
"My dad wanted to go back there and see his family, we all wanted to go back there," Kendricks said. "But it’s just like, how can we do that without jeopardizing our own health, how can my dad go back there without jeopardizing his own health? Everything has just been a little bit different and...it’s real.”
On the field, Kendricks is coming off of a career-best season. He was the second-best linebacker in the NFL in 2019 according to Pro Football Focus, made the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement, and was named a First Team All-Pro. The 2015 second-round pick out of UCLA posted his fourth consecutive season with over 100 tackles, as well as career-highs with 12 pass breakups and two forced fumbles.
As the middle linebacker, he's the quarterback of Mike Zimmer's vaunted defense, getting everybody on the same page and making plays against both the run and the pass.
According to Kendricks, there are some similarities between football and painting.
“Football is definitely an art," he said. "There’s times where I feel like I’m out there painting the Mona Lisa. There’s times where I really feel like you have to use your creativeness, just being spontaneous and just kind of doing things, trying things out to be successful, and that’s an art in itself."
Kendricks' football talent helped lead the Vikings to the NFC divisional round, and his off-the-field talent is helping him raise money for those most affected by this virus.
Check out the full video feature the NFL did on Kendricks right here:
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