DeVante Bausby's Connection to Chiefs Kingdom Runs Deep

The story behind Bausby's connection with the Chiefs, both past and present

One part of the story has already been told.

DeVante Bausby, the Kansas City Chiefs' rookie cornerback who attended Hogan Prep Academy, which happens to be located less than 10 miles from Arrowhead Stadium, has been given an opportunity with his childhood team.

He already spoke about his lifelong membership to Chiefs Kingdom.

It sounds like a movie script.

A kid that grew up in the shadows of the building that housed his childhood heroes in Will Shields, Tony Gonzalez and other former Chiefs greats is now calling that same place his office—the place he drives to work every day and puts on the same jersey of those he grew up idolizing.

But the story goes much deeper than that for how Bausby and the Chiefs organization have been connected, dating all the way back to the days of his childhood.

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From the time Bausby was seven years old all the way up until the end of his eighth grade year, he was a regular at Operation Breakthrough, an organization that has been working with the Chiefs for more than a decade.

"The mission of Operation Breakthrough is to help children who are living in poverty develop to their fullest potential by providing them a safe, loving and educational environment," per the Operation Breakthrough website.

When asked, Bausby couldn't say enough about the program.

"It really put a spark in my childhood," he explained. "I can sit back now and say that I had a fun childhood because of Operation Breakthrough.

"If not for them, I would have been sitting in my house all summer, and there's no telling what else I might have done. They kept me out of trouble and allowed me to have a lot of fun experiences."

During the school year, Bausby was at Operation Breakthrough every day. The bus would pick him up there before school and then drop him off afterwards. During the summer, he spent most of his days at the facility or on any of the daily field trips they would take.

"They were awesome," Bausby said. "We'd go on field trips every day whether it was the skating rink or the museum. It was just a lot of fun."

Operation Breakthrough was founded in 1971 by Sister Berta Sailer and Sister Carita Bussanmas, who simply wanted to help mostly single mothers living in the inner city that couldn't afford day care.

After more than 40 years of serving the Kansas City community, there's no way to comprehend the number of lives they've changed.

"When (Bausby) went here, we didn't have the issues with families that we have right now," Sailer said. "They weren't millionaire families back then, but they had good, working parents who tried to help and did a good job. They didn't have a whole lot of money, but they made it work.

"Right now, presently, one in four of our children are homeless out of 400 kids."

The program began with 50 infants, toddlers and preschoolers at 31st and Paseo. In 1976, it expanded to include before and after-school care. The Center moved to its current location at 31st and Troost in 1981.

Whether it's Read Across America, a Play 60 event or any of the other numerous programs the Chiefs have been involved with over the years, the association with Operation Breakthrough has always been a focus for the organization since Carol Vermeil, the wife of former head coach Dick Vermeil, led this pairing.

Bausby remembered Chiefs players coming to Operation Breakthrough and spending time with him when he was a kid in the program.

"Will Shields was a guy that always showed up," he recalled. "There were a number of players that were there all the time."

These experiences have stayed with him.

One particular year, Bausby remembers the Chiefs having a program where players would take a few select kids to Walmart to buy $100 worth of toys before Christmas.

Bausby was one of those kids one year, and the player he teamed up with was former Chiefs great, tight end Tony Gonzalez.

"They did it every year but that was one of my favorite experiences," Bausby recalled. "I loved every minute of it. I still remember everything about that day and it was more than 10 years ago."

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Besides just spending time with Chiefs players, the time Bausby spent at Operation Breakthrough prepared him for his future in football in another way as well.

His love for football originated from the time he spent around his uncle.

He's the one who instilled that love for the game in him. But the first time he ever played organized football was because of a volunteer at Operation Breakthrough named Jimmy Randle.

"It started with my uncle, but Operation Breakthrough really kept it going," Bausby explained of his love of the game. "That was the first time I actually played football."

With more than 25 kids running around and playing football at the facility multiple times every day, Sister Berta told Randle to get the kids into their own flag football league.

That was music to the ears of Randle, who was a standout player at Paseo and Southwest High School back in the day before playing semipro ball with the Kansas Chaos and Kansas City Jazz football clubs.

Randall was a football guy and now with Sister Berta's blessing, he was able to start a team in the local Boys and Girls Club league.

"It just pretty much took off from there," Randle explained. "They were competing against a lot of boys that were older than them, which helped Bausby because he got to see others playing up to his talent."

For kids who were 10 or 11 years old, there were some struggles going up against kids who were a few years older. But Randle remembers one particular game in which Bausby showed everyone the kind of talent that would eventually land him on an NFL roster.

The game was played at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, and Randle's squad was going up against a team coached by a good friend of his.

"At 11 years old, he caught a touchdown on two 15-year-old kids," Randle recalled. "He then took a sharpie out of his sock and acted like he signed the ball, like Terrell Owens.

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"It took them over the top. I remember that like it was yesterday."

Randle also remembered taking the kids to Arrowhead Stadium one afternoon.

Former Chiefs cornerback Eric Warfield gave the kids a tour and then a bunch of the players actually gave the kids their gloves after practice.

The next day at Randle's practice, every kid had on those oversized gloves, but they didn't care.

"I really appreciate what coach Randall did because it just got me ready for life and everything for football down the road," Bausby said. "He dedicated a lot to us."

Randle had also gone through Operation Breakthrough as a kid, and volunteering his time was just a way for him to pay it forward.

He believes the program really helped Bausby.

"I think it was a big pillar in his life because it allowed him to stay away from the streets," Randle explained. "He was able to see how the older boys were leaving there and going off to college and making things of themselves.

"At that time, Operation Breakthrough only went up to 12 years old, but we kept a lot of the older boys around to keep them off the street. A lot of them later went off to college, they graduated and turned out to be pretty successful. That was good for the younger guys to see the older guys doing that."

The cyclical effect that programs like Operation Breakthrough has had on the local community have put Bausby in a unique position to help others. He was once a kid in the program who looked forward to any interaction with Chiefs players coming to visit, and now he's one of those players.

"It's crazy how I kind of have switched roles now," Bausby explained. "But it's imperative that we continue to help because it really touches those kids and it stays with them. The whole Tony Gonzalez thing, that was over 10 years ago and I still remember that to this day.

"It was one of my favorite experiences as a kid."

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Randle believes Bausby is someone who should be viewed as the example to other kids.

"He's a model for young guys to emulate because he's shown that you can come from the inner city, stay out of trouble and achieve your dream," Randle explained. "We see so many kids lose their life tragically.

"He's a testament to young guys that's it's not about the streets."

One of the program specialists at Operation Breakthrough, Keyonna Clark, has known Bausby since 2001.

Her son, KeAndre, grew up in the program with him and the two were good friends. They played on Randall's football team together.

Clark remembers Bausby as the humble, quiet kid who would always bring over his homework whenever he came to stay at their house.

"If anyone deserves this, I believe he is that person," she explained. "I remember him as always being very respectful. He was very humble and had great discipline."

"Being able to watch him grow into the young man that he is, it's been a blessing. Words can't really describe how amazing it is to see him where he is today and what he's doing."

According to Chiefs general manager John Dorsey, Bausby's story probably won't be the last.

"I applaud all those associated with Operation Breakthrough," he said. "I'm sure as good as they are in terms of being able to reach young men and inspire them to chase their goals and dreams that we'll continue to see more like Bausby in the future."

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But in order for Bausby to even have this opportunity, he first had to impress the Chiefs' personnel staff at its local pro day back in April, which he did, in a few different ways.

After finishing his career at Pittsburg State and earning his degree in Business Marketing, Bausby joined more than 20 other local college prospects at this pro day workout.

"Not only did he display the speed, but also the athletic change-of-direction quickness and explosiveness," Dorsey explained. "That was the very first thing you noticed.

"Then as the day goes on you get a chance to interact with various people and he's one of the guys who had a professional approach. He was mature beyond his age.

"He came across as very articulate, smart and prideful."

The Chiefs had their eye on Bausby during the NFL Draft, and Dorsey admitted to being a little surprised that he was available to sign as an undrafted free agent.

"We got a little lucky," Dorsey said. "But at the end of the day, he's where he belongs.

"He scored-out in the top 15 at his position. That's a credit to Pitt State and a credit to him as well."

Dorsey has been impressed with what he's seen from Bausby so far at practice.

"I think he's done well," he noted. "He's one of those guys who has a persevering attitude. He's in the playbook all the time and he's physically competing on a day-to-day basis."

For Bausby, the love he's felt from Chiefs Kingdom since signing couldn't be more appreciated.

"The support is awesome," he said. "I'm definitely trying to make everyone proud and give the kids who are still at Operation Breakthrough, or just the inner cities in general, somebody to look up to so they can believe and so that they will want to achieve as well.

"That's my motivation."

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