Keeshawn Silver strives to be role model for Rocky Mount youth through "Big Kountry" camp ::

Keeshawn Silver strives to be role model for Rocky Mount youth through “Big Kountry” camp ::

It’s a small town, but a “big kountry.”

“Farm raised lot of protein,” Christopher Arrington laughed. “Growing up as a kid this guy was always working out.”

Arrington is one of the assistant coaches volunteering at Keeshawn Silver’s Big Kountry football camp.

“Coming from Rocky Mount you don’t have the most,” Silver said. “To have a free football camp you can do what you have to do here.”

In early June the former Rocky Mount High School football and basketball star nicknamed, “Big Kountry”, put on his first kids camp at Vernon T. Bradley Jr. Stadium.

“I want to thank ya’ll for coming to my first camp,” Silver said to a group of elementary through high school aged aspiring football players. Silver played defensive line for the University of Kentucky last season after transferring from UNC.

“It was definitely hard to transfer from UNC, you know North Carolina kid going to that dream school leaving the family behind,” Silver said. “At the end of the day people have to understand it’s just a business trip. Everything will work out in the long run.

Helping Silver coach the kids up were other current and former college and pro athletes from the area. Fellow Rocky Mount grad and former NC State cornerback Shyheim Battle coached the defensive backs. Former Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts linebacker Ratcliff Thomas was with the linebackers.

“When [Silver] asked me to come down it was an honor,” Thomas said. “We are proud of him coming from here.”

When you’re from Rocky Mount you’re never alone.

“My memory, as long as I get older I keep remembering her,” Silver said.

Being present for the younger generation is important to Silver. He lost his mother Cynthia to colon cancer when he was nine years old.

“It took me awhile to process it and understand what happened,” Silver said. “I really learned what happened when I got older.”

In his mother’s absence, he was raised by his grandmother, Queen.

“She’s hardcore she’s tough,” Silver said. “She’s been through a lot herself and she’s raised me tough.”

Silver said he had different male role models help him along the way growing up. Now through his “Big Kountry” camp he’s trying to be one as well.

“I live by everything happens for a reason,” Silver said. “That passion motivated me more to the man I am now.”

During his trip back home when he wasn’t giving back, he was putting in work, training multiple times a day. A former 5-star player out of high school, he knows the NFL could be in his future if he can produce at Kentucky.

“I’m pushing myself as hard as I can,” Silver said.

A big year for “Big Kountry” could be ahead.

“I’m praying on it and I’m betting on myself,” Silver said.”