Stephen Z. Bankhead
At age 7, Laurel native Dontario “Drumm” Drummond temporarily lost the man he idolized. He had grown up playing football with his father, who also coached his little league team.
Then suddenly, his dad, Kelvin Chinn, disappeared from his life, jailed for a drug conviction. His world was forever changed, and he lost interest in sports.
Today, the University of Mississippi football player understands that life is a journey, and dreams his path will lead to the NFL.
“I can remember being as early as 5 years old and having a football in my hand,” Drummond said.
Laurel, with a population of 18,000, is located an hour and a half from Jackson and 40 minutes from Meridian. It’s the birthplace of Lance Bass, a lead singer of the band NSYNC; Leontyne Price, a famous opera singer; and Ralph Boston, a track star who became the first person to break the 27 ft. barrier in the Olympics.
Drummond also wants to be known for his athletic talent. As the middle child of three brothers, he grew up spending time with his family and hanging out with friends. Sometimes he “helped” his father coach the team. The two shared a special bond.
At age 7, their bond was tested when Chinn was sentenced to six years in the federal penitentiary, convicted of selling drugs. During this time, Drummond stopped playing football and began to struggle.
“It was rough on him,” Chinn said.
Drummond’s family supported each other through the years of his dad’s incarceration, and he began playing football again at 13 when his father was released from prison.
“When I came home, I sat all my kids down and told them I’m not going anywhere else anymore,” Chinn said. “If I got to work two jobs, I’ll work two jobs, but I’m not going anywhere.”
Chinn was the motivation Drummond needed to focus on sports. Throughout high school, Drummond played football and basketball, but became better in football.
“I saw that I had all the skills in basketball, but the most important, which was shooting,” he said.
He chose to focus solely on football and began his college career at East Mississippi Community College, where he experienced a challenging first week. It was difficult adjusting from a high school team to a junior college team, and Drummond contemplated quitting, but his father offered advice.
“He told me to just stick with it and keep pushing, and it would all work out in the end,” Drummond said.
Chinn was right. Drummond won both state and national championships during his two years at EMCC. He was a big part of the team’s success, leading the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
“After he won the state championship his freshmen year and he walked off the field,” Chinn said, “the first thing he said to me was ‘I’m so glad you made me come back.'”
Once Drummond graduated from EMCC, his goal was to play football at a bigger school close to home. Drummond received over 15 offers from colleges, but chose the University of Mississippi because of their history of wide receivers playing in the NFL. He’s excited to now play in arguably the toughest college football conference in the nation, the SEC.
“I’m ready to put up numbers and show them what I can do,” he said.
Playing in the NFL is something every football player dreams of, and Drummond is no exception. He’s working on a backup plan, but isn’t overly concerned with it.
“I feel like the second you begin to think ‘What if?’ is the second you lose focus,” he said. “I want to put my all into this.”
His family is now his main support system, and he said he wouldn’t be where he is without them. He also thanks football for the life lessons it has taught him, such as maturity, respect and time management.
“I used to never be on time for anything,” he said. “I never thought about how I was affecting others by being late, but now I try to be as early as possible thanks to my coaches.”
Drummond said football has changed his life, and he’s grateful for Chinn’s encouragement.
“I told him to use my situation for an example,” Chinn said. “Life someway, somehow, takes you through an experience, and you got to learn from it.”
Chinn said his son has always been active. “He would be outside riding bicycles on one wheel at 5 years old,” he said.
Drummond said his personality hasn’t changed much in some ways since childhood. “I’ve always had a laid back and chill persona, even as a kid,” he said.
Off the field, Drummond appears humble, easy going and calm. On the field, he is assertive, gritty and explosive.
”I told him, right now y’all (Drummond and Ole Miss) are a marriage made in heaven, because both of y’all need each other,” Chinn said.
It’s hard to tell who is more eager for the season to start, but Drummond is confident his ambition is the catalyst for his success.