Kevin Murphy has been playing varsity football since he was a freshman walking the halls of Lakewood High School. He’s a standout running back on offense and cornerback on defense and has been named to the All-Conference team all three years he has played.
With Kevin’s quickness, he also runs track: 200 meter, 4x1, 4x2, and 4x4. He was named Most Valuable Player on the track team twice in his high school career and received MVP after coming in first at this year’s county-wide Civitan Jamboree.
“I ran the 200 and in the relays and finished first in everything I competed in at the jamboree this year. I think my best time was 22.8,” he said.
Lakewood’s 4x4 relay team, which Kevin is a part of, made it to the state finals and finished fifth.
Murphy is also the starting power forward on the varsity basketball team. The team also made it into the NCHSAA 1A State Playoffs, but lost in the first round. “We had a really good team, but lost to Rosewood,” he said.
Football is his favorite sport of all, though. Last season the Leopards made it to the third round in the state playoffs in the 1A division.
“I just have a love for the game. I’ve always wanted to play football since I was little,” he asserted.
The rising senior played all through middle school and as a youngster. There would be pickup games, he recalled, in the yard.
“I played one year of rec, but my aunt died and they took me out,” he said, sighing. According to Murphy, his Aunt Jenice saw his love for the game and took it upon herself to make sure he was signed up and at the practices and the games. She died suddenly and his parents didn’t sign him up to play anymore after that one year.
When asked what it is about football that made it his favorite choice, Kevin took a moment before answering, and then said, “I guess it’s the contact of the sport that I like. When I was little, all my older brothers used to beat me up so I was rough, and I like that kind of contact,” he explained, laughing at the memories.
Those three brothers and his two sisters, all older than Murphy, and his parents, Victory Murphy and Chris McKoy, have been encouragers for him in his sports endeavors and school work, he stressed.
A Lakewood counselor, Tommy Owens, comes to mind when he thinks about people that motivate him, too. “I’ve known him a long time. He always stays behind me and wants to see me succeed.“
He also has an Aunt Cathy that is always motivating him to “do better” whenever possible.
This past season, a sadness was mixed in with his football joy when his brother James Powell died. “He came to my football game that Friday night and after he got home he died suddenly. We played Hobbton in the playoffs that night and won,” Kevin expressed.
Because of his love for the game, Murphy is always working out. He said he practices for football all year long by going to the gym for weight training, plus he runs at least 1.5 miles every morning. This is above and beyond what he does for the regular practices that go along with the sport he’s playing at the time. In football season, it’s two hours every afternoon, and in basketball and track season, it’s about 90 minutes every afternoon.
Kevin is not alone in his efforts to get better on the football field and in the classroom. His two best friends and teammates, Malik Taylor and Nikin Henry, are beside him all the way.
“We push each other to the max, both on and off the field,” Kevin asserted. Malik is a linebacker and Nikin is the other Leopard running back.
“Me and Nikin have been on varsity football since freshman year,” he added.
With all that extra activities going on during the school year, Kevin said he still manages to keep a 3.0 or better grade point average. Besides practicing together, Kevin said the boys study together too. “We go to Malik’s house to study or we go to the library,” he said.
Like a lot of athletes, Kevin’s favorite subject is math. “I love math. I love working with numbers,” he said.
When he graduates next year, Kevin said he plans to go to college and get a four-year degree in criminal justice. “I want to be a police officer,” he explained and added, “In Roseboro you see a lot of crazy stuff happening. You see a lot of children doing stuff they aren’t supposed to do, and I just want to get the drugs off the street,” he said seriously.
His dream would be to play football for East Carolina while he’s getting that Criminal Justice degree.
Kevin said playing sports has taught him a few things about life that don’t have anything to do with sports. “It’s taught me you’ve got to have patience. Even though things aren’t going your way, you’ve got to stay with it,” he advised.
As for his best football memory, he was a freshman on the varsity squad, he was nervous, and it was the first time Lakewood played Camp Lejuene.
“It was the very first play of the game. They gave me the ball and I carried it 70-some yards for a touchdown. That was a great memory. It prepared me. I was scared to play on varsity as a freshman, but that play helped me through it,” he said with a smile.