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At rookie minicamp, hometown boy Felix Anudike-Uzomah is still pinching himself

Kansas City’s first-round pick is the very definition of a homegrown NFL player.

NFL: APR 28 2023 Draft Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Speaking to reporters before the team’s 2023 rookie minicamp got underway on Saturday afternoon, Kansas City Chiefs rookie defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah (ann-you-DEE-kay you-ZAH-mah) was just like you’d expect someone to be after growing up as a Chiefs fan in Lee’s Summit, Missouri — and suddenly becoming your home team’s first-round draft pick.

“Pretty amazing,” said the 21-year-old. “I’m not gonna lie to you. Things start to pick up — and I’m enjoying every bit of every second of it.”

Three years ago, the young man was just a fan who was helping to celebrate the team’s first Super Bowl victory in 50 years.

“It was crazy,” he recalled of the parade through downtown Kansas City in February of 2020 — when he was still in high school. “I think it was Damien Williams — is that his name? He was going over — and I was in the front row, trying to get a high-five [with] them and then trying to get a picture of him.

“I remember just being a fan with a couple of friends and family. We were, like, camping out — I think [at] 5:30 in the morning. So it was a crazy experience being a part of that parade.”

His experience that day was similar to hundreds of thousands of other Kansas City fans. But years before — while he was a fifth-grader — he’d already had another experience that many Chiefs fans only dream about: getting a guided tour of Arrowhead Stadium. It made quite an impression on him.

“Somebody gave my mom a ticket to have a tour [of] the Kansas City Chiefs,” he said of the day. “Me and my brother took it. So [we] just went around — literally everywhere. [We] got a tour guide with everybody.

“It was very eventful — and I was so excited. I wanted to do it again. But obviously, my mom couldn’t. She got it as a gift, so she couldn’t really get it again. But it was very eventful. It was breathtaking, really. I’m not gonna lie to you on that.”

So from that moment on, it appears that his goal was set. For Anudike-Uzomah, it started out as a desire to emulate Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles.

“Obviously,” he said, “if you’re a Chiefs fan growing up, you always have the dream of playing for the Kansas City Chiefs. Every young boy’s dream is to play for the Kansas City Chiefs. I’m happy — and I’m honored — to fulfill that dream that a lot of people around Kansas City Missouri [have].”

And he credits his mother for giving him the right mindset to achieve it.

“She always had high hopes for me,” he explained. “[She] said, ‘Hey, if, you want to go to the NFL, [you’ve] just gotta work hard. You [can’t have a] mindset of, “I’m tired” or [a] mindset of, “Oh, I can do it later today.” You gotta work now.’”

So the young man put in the work to make his dream come true. As he grew up, his size and skills led him away from emulating his first Chiefs hero. Now he’ll have to set his sights on being like other great Kansas City players like Tamba Hali and Derrick Thomas.

“Sometimes I [am still] just like thinking to myself, ‘Am I dreaming?’” he admitted. “So I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not.

“But now, like I said, I gotta go to work — and I gotta put the work in. I still haven’t made the team until I put in the work and impress the coaches.

“So yes, I’m a fan. Now it’s time to go to work — and try to win another Super Bowl.”

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