Where Are They Now is a weekly series where we catch up with former Buckeyes to discuss their Ohio State experience and beyond.
Former strong safety Percy King played for the Buckeyes from 1995 until 1999. He recorded 64 total tackles, two interceptions and three blocked kicks during his career. Most notably, he blocked a punt against Penn State in 1998 which was recovered for a touchdown. He graduated from Ohio State and was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2000, but decided to move on from football before the season started.
I had the opportunity to talk to him more about his life after football and how he has taken what he has learned from his time at Ohio State and applied it to his art career.
What is your best memory from playing for Ohio State?
PK: I'd say probably winning the Sugar Bowl. That was an exciting time, playing Texas A&M. And, it was just the culmination of a great season. It was a fun time.
Describe the experience of being a student-athlete and representing Ohio State.
PK: Just being a student-athlete, you know, representing Ohio State, it's an amazing experience. It's one that's like no other. To come out of the tunnel at that time, from 1995 to 2000, it was just phenomenal. There was just something really rustic about it because the south stands were still not permanent at that time and you still had the track around the field.
It was just a really cool feeling. I mean to hear 100,000 people screaming to the point where you can't even hear yourself think. It's an amazing experience and it's so loud. And so, at that point, all you can do is just read and react. As far as thinking, you don't think very much. It's just an amazing experience.
Since stepping away from football, what have you been up to?
PK: Well, since that time, I've been in some different areas. I started out as a sales rep and I was a sales rep for 15 years and got married, had my son and my daughter. My son is playing college football right now. And since then, I've actually started up a new career as an artist, which I'm doing full time now.
What made you want to step away from the corporate world and go into art?
PK: Well, it was something that I never really saw myself doing, but I've always been creative as far as drawing, just making things, and being a tinkerer and art always appealed to me, but I never saw it as a career option until I was getting a lot of great feedback on my work, and so I decided I would do it full time. It was interesting because the corporate world was what really prepared me, and gave me everything I needed to sustain myself as a full-time artist.
The pieces you create are very unique, how did you come up with that technique?
PK: Well, that is the culmination of everything I've ever learned as a carpenter. I started out fixing up my houses, doing trim work, and then eventually, I moved on to furniture making and I did furniture making for a few years.
And it just kind of got to a point where, you know, making furniture was exciting, but I wasn't really making anything that like really wowed me as far as anything, different or unique. But, just to find what I wanted to create and invent my own style, and it was during the course of that that I ended up coming up with artwork.
How has the transition been, being known for something other than sports?
PK: It's pretty cool because after a while, with sports at Ohio State, every week we used to walk around Columbus and everybody would know who you were, whether they were a casual fan or a huge sports fan. You're immediately recognized everywhere, but then, the further and further along you get away from that, the more people are just like, "oh you look familiar."
And you're not as recognized. But now, as far as in the public eye, you feel relevant, it feels relevant again. I feel relevant again as far as my contribution to society.
Would you say that your football career has translated over into your career in art?
PK: Football has definitely translated over into my art career. For one, just as far as work ethic, because I'm passionate about it. I can just go in my studio and just work for 13, 14, 15 hours straight and not get very much done, but be fully satisfied with what I've done for an entire day, even though I may have not gotten very far at all.
But it was just the repetition and doing something over and over and over again until I get it right. I think that's some of the things I've translated over from football. And then as far as just contacts it's translated over too because there are so many people who know Ohio State and Buckeye Nation is so vast across the country.
You just don't realize how many people are there when you need them, as far as just different contacts and just everybody knows somebody. Everyone has a connection to Ohio State. I never really thought about it in terms of art. But, it's not until you get into it that you start to realize we really are everywhere.
You’ve had a collection in the Columbus Museum of Art, what has that meant for you?
PK: To be featured in the Columbus Museum of Art, it's been unimaginable. It's a dream come true, I guess you could say. I never even thought of the possibility when I first started doing this. Ultimately my goal when I first started was just to sell pieces and then people liked it. But I didn't think people would actually buy it, let alone it end up being in a museum, but it's been an honor and a privilege to do it.
If you could say anything to someone looking ahead to life after football and trying to be a leader in their field, what would you say?
PK: I would say, one, just expose yourself to as many different things as possible, because when you're playing football, when you're a student-athlete, you don't have time to really understand what's out there that you may or may not like. It took me a long time of traveling, and traveling overseas and just experiencing so many different things. It took me a while to figure out what it was that I'd really like to do, what I was passionate about.
And once you find that passion, your pursuit of that passion will come just as easily as your pursuit for the passion of football came for you.