The Tragic Truth About The Kelce Family

The Tragic Truth About The Kelce Family


The Kelce family’s story seemed anything but tragic when brothers Travis and Jason became the big stars of Super Bowl LVII by giving football fans a gripping gridiron showdown. Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce and his younger brother, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, both came into the game with Super Bowl rings. So, the question on many viewers’ minds was this: Which brother would be the first to boast a pair of rings?


The Tragic Truth About The Kelce Family

Jason was the first sibling to win a Super Bowl championship when the Eagles defeated the New England Patriots in 2018. Two years later, Travis’ team took down the 49ers. Of his baby bro’s new bling, Jason told Sports Illustrated, “Winning it yourself is a very self-gratifying thing — like, I’ve worked my entire life to do this — and that has its emotions in its own way, but seeing someone you love and care about accomplish their dreams is potentially more gratifying.”

These days, you might think that the Kelces’ lives are so charmed that their biggest disappointment was when Travis missed out on meeting Taylor Swift at one of her Eras concerts. “I was a little butthurt I didn’t get to hand her one of the bracelets I made for her,” he complained on the “New Heights” podcast — of course, Travis and Taylor have now connected, though we’re not sure if Travis has given Taylor his bracelet.

However, for the Kelce family, it hasn’t been all brotherly love, raucous celebrations of Super Bowl glory, and letting loose with fellow Swifties. Even after finding success in the NFL, they’ve had to overcome trials and misfortune.

Ed Kelce’s dashed military dreams

Ed Kelce is a Cleveland, Ohio native who attended St. Joseph High School. Like his sons, he played football, and the ramifications of his short time on the field shaped his entire future. While playing, he suffered an injury to his left knee that required surgery to have the cartilage removed.

On his sons’ “New Heights” podcast, Kelce explained that prior generations of the men in his family had served in the military, which was a legacy he wanted to carry on after he graduated from high school. But when he tried to join the Marines, he was disappointed to learn that he was medically disqualified from enlisting due to his past knee injury. He also got turned away by a different branch of the U.S. military. “I got a little pissed off actually at the recruiter’s office for the Army,” he recalled, saying he felt it was unfair because he was willing to serve his country while so many others were dodging the draft. “I had some grizzled old sergeant just chew me out about, ‘What am I going to tell the mother of the guy that dies trying to carry your big a** out of there ’cause you can’t walk?'”

The sergeant sent Kelce on to the Coast Guard, where he was allowed to enlist. Unfortunately, he was unable to complete basic training because he began experiencing symptoms of Crohn’s disease. He eventually wound up working at a steel foundry lab.

Donna Kelce was 12 when her mother died

Donna Kelce spent her younger years living in downtown Cleveland. Unfortunately, her mother got sick with an undisclosed illness, and her family moved to the suburbs on the recommendation of a doctor. “The doctor said that maybe putting her into a different environment might help her a little bit, but she passed,” Donna said on the “New Heights” podcast. When her mother died, Donna was just 12 years old.

Donna’s father, Donald Roy “Don” Blalock, Sr., later remarried, and she lucked out in the stepmother department when Mary Blalock joined the family. Donna said that she wouldn’t have gone to college without Mary intervening on her behalf because of her father’s outdated views. “He was very much chauvinistic, so he thought I should go to secretary school or something like that,” Donna shared. “He basically said, ‘She’s not smart enough to go school.'” But Mary knew how to play Don like a fiddle; she argued that college would be the perfect place for Donna to find a husband. Sadly, Mary died six months before her two grandsons faced off in the 2023 Super Bowl. “I wish she was with us, but she’s not,” Donna said.

It seems that Travis Kelce and Jason Kelce get some of their athleticism from their mom, who told them that though her father was also against her participating in sports, that didn’t stop Donna from sneaking off to compete in track & field events in high school.

Donna and Ed Kelce’s divorce was hard on the family

When the topic of Donna Kelce and Ed Kelce’s divorce was brought up on “New Heights,” Jason Kelce still sounded like the wounded little boy who couldn’t understand why his parents were no longer together. In reference to Ed, Jason asked his mom, “Why do you hate him?” Donna assured her son that she and her ex-husband still get along just fine. “It’s just sometimes people, they move apart,” she said. The couple had been married for over two decades when they officially called it quits.

The divorce was further discussed in Amazon Prime Video’s “Kelce” documentary. In it, Ed admits that he would have preferred to end the marriage sooner, but he and Donna stayed together for their sons’ sake. Per the New York Post, Donna called that time period “tough,” but on Travis and Jason’s podcast, she explained how she and Ed made the situation work by spending time with each son separately. With so many games and practices to attend, it actually helped that they weren’t functioning as a complete family unit.

According to Travis, he first realized something was amiss with his parents’ marriage when he was in middle school. “I would go and have sleepovers at other houses and the other parents are staying in the same room, and my parents didn’t stay in the same room,” he recalled in “Kelce.” But it wasn’t until he and Jason were in college that Ed and Donna divorced.

Ed and Donna Kelce had a hard time conceiving

During her wide-ranging “New Heights” interview with her sons, Donna Kelce spoke about her struggle to conceive after getting married. “Five years later, we were trying to have kids. It wasn’t working for whatever reason,” she said. Because of this struggle, Donna was unprepared when her doctor told her that she was finally expecting. “I went, ‘Whoa,'” she recalled.

Jason Kelce got his mother to admit that she was hoping to have a daughter when she got pregnant for the second time. When she made this confession, she tried to lessen the blow for Travis Kelce by telling her younger son, “But I got one! He’s a fashionista.” She and Ed would also end up with three granddaughters, courtesy of Jason and his wife, Kylie Kelce.

Though they were happy to finally be able to have children, one major downside of having two rambunctious boys is that they were a destructive drain on the family’s finances. Ed Kelce reminisced about each of his sons breaking a window, saying that Jason did it by playing lacrosse in the house. As for Travis, he’d decided that it would be fun to hit golf balls with a bat. He then lied to Ed and said he was trying to toss a football over the house, which is something he’d seen his dad do before. Then there was the food. “The refrigerator was always packed, but it didn’t last more than a day or so,” Donna told AP. “When they left for college, I got a raise.”

Jason Kelce lost someone important to him

According to Donna Kelce, her father, Donald Roy “Don” Blalock Sr., had plenty of faults. “Grandpa was a narcissist,” she told her sons on “New Heights.” But Blalock played a crucial role in Jason Kelce’s football career by giving him some guidance at a time when he needed it.

Jason didn’t get to see his grandpa often, but during one of his rare visits, Blalock gave Jason a card that had a Calvin Coolidge quote about the power of persistence printed on it. Jason was in high school at the time and uncertain about what he wanted to do with his future, but that quote gave him the confidence to pursue a college football career as a walk-on. Of the realization he reached, Jason told The Washington Post, “A lot of times, the people who end up making it are the people who just stick with it.”

When Jason got his Super Bowl ring in 2018, Blalock was unable to attend the game in person but did get to watch his grandson play. “He hung in there and he saw Jason win the Super Bowl. And he was with it enough to know exactly what happened and everything,” Donna told The Athletic. Blalock died six months later, and Jason helped his family scatter his ashes. “He was not the best grandfather. He wasn’t the best dad,” Jason told The Washington Post. “But he was a great grandfather at the perfect moment.”


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