Inside Travis Kelce’s rocky road to stardom

Inside Travis Kelce’s rocky road to stardom

Travis Kelce went through his fair share of trials and tribulations before becoming one of the best tight ends in NFL history — and dating one of the most successful women in the world.

The Kanas City Chiefs tight end was first linked to Taylor Swift at the beginning of September 2023, and the pair seemingly confirmed their romance just a few weeks later when the “Cruel Summer” songstress was spotted at one of his games.

From getting kicked off his college football team to getting his own dating show, keep scrolling to learn more about the Ohio native’s rocky road to stardom.

Travis Kelce has become one of the biggest names in football — here’s a look at how he got there. Getty Images for Netflix

Getting Kicked Out of Pre-School

Kelce was a troublemaker from an early age. During an episode of his “New Heights” podcast, the NFL star revealed that both he and his older brother, Jason Kelce, got “kicked out of pre-school” when they were toddlers.

“I got kicked out of pre-school because during playtime we were playing checkers, and I was winning because I don’t f—king lose at checkers and if you win you stay on,” Travis explained.

Yet when the teacher tried to tell him that he “had to share” and give the other kids a turn, Travis simply replied, “No, I don’t.”

“And [then I] threw the chair that I was sitting in at her,” he confessed.

Before he was an NFL star, Kelce got kicked off his high school football team for failing his French class. Getty Images

Failing French

Fast forward over a decade and Travis found himself in hot water at school once again.

During his sophomore year in high school, the Kansas City Chiefs player failed a French class and was subsequently benched on the football team.

Due to the punishment, Travis ended up missing out on the opportunity to play on the same team as his older brother, who was a senior at the time.

“He played a little bit as a true freshman and then my senior year, he was ineligible because he failed a French class,” Jason explained in his Prime Video documentary, “Kelce.”

“So we missed out on my senior year playing together.”

He was also suspended for a year in college after being busted for smoking marijuana. Getty Images

Marijuana Suspension

But that wasn’t the last time Travis’ football career was impacted by his decisions off the field.

In 2010, the tight end was suspended from his collegiate team at the University of Cincinnati after testing positive for marijuana.

Similar to the incident in high school, Travis was playing on the same team as his older bother at the time, though the fun experience was cut short.

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“I was finally playing college football and having a blast. I was partying my ass off,” Travis explained in the “Kelce” documentary.

However, the brothers were unaware that the NCAA tests for THC once a year during the postseason, and Travis got chosen for a random drug test.

However, his older brother, Jason Kelce, vouched for him and Travis made his way back on the team the following year. Getty Images

“I got kicked off the team, scholarship was revoked, and I got to live with the embarrassment of it and I got to live with trying to get back into the university, so I could try and work my way back onto the team,” Travis said in “Kelce.”

“And I know I didn’t make everybody really that proud,” he continued teary-eyed, noting that it was the “first time that [he] had ever really hit adversity.”

However, Jason later went to the coaches and pleaded with them to give his younger brother “a second chance,” which they did.

In order to prove himself, Travis moved in with Jason — so that the now-Philadelphia Eagles center could “keep an eye on him” — helped pay for his own tuition and even made the honor roll the following season.

Travis was eventually drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013. Getty Images

Draft Day

When the 2013 NFL Draft came around, Travis was hoping to be selected in the first round but ended up going to the Kansas City Chiefs in the third round.

Despite his rocky past, the Chiefs then-new head coach, Andy Reid, knew that Travis had potential given the fact that he had also previously coached Jason.

In fact, when Reid called Travis to tell him the exciting news, the longtime coach made the tight end promise that there would be no funny business.

Prior to being picked, Jason had to assure the Chiefs head coach that Travis was up for the job — which he surely was. Getty Images

“He immediately takes it right back to the floor and says, ‘Listen, man, this is serious, no goofing around,’ and a whole lot of words that I would rather not repeat,” Travis recalled of his phone call with Reid on the “Club Shay Shay” podcast in 2021.

“He basically said, ‘Do not screw this up.’”

Indeed, Travis made good on his word and has been one of the most dominant players in Chiefs history.

After becoming a fan favorite — especially amongst the ladies — Travis starred on a dating show called “Catching Kelce.” NBC

“Catching Kelce”

Three years after Travis was drafted, he starred in his own reality dating series called “Catching Kelce.”

During the elimination-style show, Kelce went on dates with women from each of the 50 states.

However, when the E! show came to an end, the NFL star was still left without a leading lady.

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He later admitted that he decided to do the show because he needed money. NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Earlier this year, Travis admitted on his “New Heights” podcast that he mainly did the show for financial reasons, joking that he was “broke” and “needed a dollar.”

“I thought you were looking for love?” Jason retorted.

“Yeah, that too. Still searching for it,” Travis replied with a laugh. “F—k! 10 years later and still nothing.”

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In 2022, Travis and his brother, Jason, delved into the podcasting world. AP

Becoming a Podcaster

At the start of the 2022 season, Travis and Jason decided to start their “New Heights” podcast in order to spend more time together.

The siblings began recording weekly episodes — ranging from one hour to 90 minutes — in which they discussed all the major NFL storylines for the week, as well as funny tidbits about their childhood and respective lives.

The show became an instant hit. As of September 2023, it was the number one sports podcast on Spotify and the number one overall podcast on Apple Music.

In addition to boosting the brothers’ fame to new heights, the podcast has also boosted their bank accounts.

During his decade-long football career, Travis has won two Super Bowls. Getty Images

Two-Time Super Bowl Champion

Although the hunky football player has made a name for himself off the field, he is also regarded as one of the best tight ends of all time.

During his 10-year career, Travis has been to the Pro Bowl eight times, has broken numerous NFL records and was even ranked the fifth best player in the entire league prior to the 2023 season.

To top off his long list of accomplishments, he has also won the Super Bowl twice — beating his brother and the Philadelphia Eagles in 2023.

In 2023, the two-time champion was ranked as the fifth best player in the NFL. Getty Images
Unfortunately, he had to beat his older brother to get his second ring. Getty Images

Travis and Jason made history as the first siblings to ever play against each other, which they both admitted was a little “awkward.”

“It’s wild and kind of surreal,” Travis said on their podcast.

“I feel like I’ve been getting asked this question for my entire career: ‘What would you feel if you played your brother in the Super Bowl?’ The entire time I’ve been like, ‘That’s been the goal.’ Now that it’s actually happening, it’s kind of sick. Now someone’s gotta send their brother home.”

The athlete took his fame to new heights in March 2023 by hosting “Saturday Night Live.” Rosalind O’Connor/NBC via Getty Images

Hosting “Saturday Night Live”

Shortly after getting his second Super Bowl ring, Travis hosted “Saturday Night Live” for the first time, putting him into a rare group of athletes who have helmed the late night show.

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During his opening monologue, the two-time champion poked fun at his rocky past and his rise to stardom.

“In high school [Jason] was an honor student and I got kicked off the team because I failed French,” Travis joked in his March 2023 appearance. “And English too, but French sounds way better.”

“And then when we were in college, I actually got kicked off the team because I tested positive for marijuana,” he continued. “So it just goes to show if you smoke weed and you’re bad in school you can win the Super Bowl twice!”

During his opening monologue, the hunky NFL player joked about some of his low moments. Will Heath/NBC via Getty Images

Travis’ impressive performance on “SNL” put the athlete into a new level of fame and proved that his talents expand far beyond football.

In fact, when Lorne Michaels was asked about Travis, he had nothing but praise for the athlete, who he insisted was not merely “funny for a jock.”

“I think he killed it,” Michaels later told Vanity Fair. “He’s a natural. He was a presence from the moment he walked out.”

Travis sparked romance rumors with Taylor Swift in early September 2023, which they seemingly confirmed weeks later. Jarrett Payton / X

Taylor Swift Romance

Travis first tried shooting his shot with Swift in July 2023 after attending one of her Eras Tour concerts in Kansas City.

During an episode of “New Heights,” the football player explained that he made the Grammy winner a friendship bracelet with his phone number on it but never had the opportunity to give it to her.

However, Swift seemingly caught wind of the sweet gesture and nearly a month later sources told the Messenger that the pair was “quietly hanging out.”

When asked about the rumors, Travis told Pat McAfee that he had invited the “Love Story” singer to one of his football games — which she accepted.

The Grammy winner was spotted at a Chiefs game with the NFL star’s mother on Sept. 24, 2023. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con
After the game, the pop star and football player hit the town together. Getty Images

Swift sent social media users — and NFL fans — into a frenzy after she was spotted sitting next to Travis’ mother during the Chiefs home game against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 24, 2023.

Following the tight end’s dominant win, the two reportedly enjoyed a romantic dinner date before meeting up with Travis’ teammates and their partners.

At the afterparty, the pair were reportedly seen looking “very affectionate” as they danced the night away before leaving together around 1 a.m. in the morning.