LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — When football players at one metro high school talk about family, they mean it.
Bloodlines run deep between the sidelines at Lee’s Summit North High School. Broncos Tight End Gracen Bell has football in his DNA.
To Gracen, Pro Football Hall of Famer Bobby Bell, who played his entire 11-year career as a Kansas City Chief, is grandpa — or pawpaw, as Gracen knows him. The elder Bell is known as one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history. Gracen Bell’s father, who is also known as Bobby Bell, also played two seasons in the National Football League.
“I was always around football growing up. My dad wouldn`t let me start until my eighth grade year,” Gracen Bell told FOX4 News.
When Bell, who is now a high school sophomore, showed up in Broncos camp last year, he was an instant starter at tight end. Jamar Mozee, Lee’s Summit North’s fifth-year head coach, said Gracen’s size at 6 feet 7 inches packs huge potential.
“He`s only going to get bigger. He`s only going to get better,” Mozee said. “The sky`s the limit for that young man. He`s got genetics on his side with grandpa.”
Gracen’s pawpaw, who just turned 79 years old, is a regular at Lee’s Summit North’s games. Gracen proudly presented photos of his father and grandfather, who were shown posing with their up-and-coming prodigy.
“They`ll give me tips. They`ll give me training stuff. It`s been great to reach out to them and get help in areas I need,” Gracen Bell said.
Yet, Bell’s Bronco teammates said they didn’t know about his famous grandpa for some time.
“I never knew until a year after,” Myles Shaw, North’s running back, said. “Gracen never told us. I think he wanted to start his own legacy. And make his own footsteps.”
“I want to be better than my dad. I want to be better than my grandpa. Obviously, it`s going to take a lot of hard work,” Gracen Bell said. “Will you be better than them? Will you strive for excellence and reach the heights they did in their career?”
On Friday, Lee’s Summit North (4-2) knocked off their neighbors from Lee’s Summit West (4-2) by a score of 21-14.