Kei Kamara, President HeartShapedHands Foundation
Born in Kenema on Sept 1, 1984, he spent his childhood days like most African youngsters - playing soccer. By 1990, his mother left for the US and the country he so loved was in the middle of a bloody civil war. Fearing for their lives, Kamara and his family fled their home, eventually seeking refuge with his mom in 2000 in Los Angeles, Calif.
His time in the United States proved to be a turning point. There Kamara found the structure and support that helped him graduate from Luezinger High School in 2003 and attended California State University Dominguez Hills. After three years and numerous soccer honors, his dream of playing professional soccer was realized when he was drafted 9th overall by the Columbus Crew in the 2006 Major League Soccer Draft.
During his time in MLS, Kamara's appeared for the San Jose Earthquakes, Houston Dynamo, and Sporting Kansas City. However, it was his time in Kansas City where Kamara made his name. As a regular starter, he quickly became a fan favorite and one of the league's most dynamic players.
In 2008, Kamara got his first called to represent his national team which has always been his dream as he grew up watching his older brothers playing soccer for local teams in Sierra Leone. his time on the team helped the country to their highest FIFA World Ranking in history (50th in 2013). although the Leone Stars has not yet qualified for a tournament yet, he still continue to push the dream of qualification to a major competition.
After three seasons in Kansas City, Kamara's talents began to attract the interest of teams from the English Premier League. In January 2013, Norwich City Football Club brought Kamara to the United Kingdom on loan. His time with the Canaries was highlighted when he scored against Everton on Feb. 23, making him the first Sierra Leonean to score in the league. his short loan spell ended with Norwich. Kamara then made a permanent move to England in September of that year when he signed with Middlesbrough Football Club. A quick start saw Kamara score 4 goals in his first 7 games, but injuries and a coaching change hampered him the rest of the season and he longed for a return home.
In 2015 Kamara returned home to not only Major League Soccer, but also his original team - the Columbus Crew SC. The move brought Kamara's best season yet as a professional. Kamara finished tied for most goals in the league with 22, was named an MLS All-Star and MVP candidate. He was also named the MLS Humanitarian of the Year for his support for Schools for Salone, a charity focused on building schools for children in his native Sierra Leone, as well as efforts through his own non profit charity, HeartShapedHands, to help provide educational opportunities for children in his home country.
Following a run to MLS Cup in 2015 with the Crew, Kamara moved on to play for New England Revolution (2016-2017) and Vancouver Whitecaps (2018), Colorado Rapids (2019-2020), and Minnesota United FC (2020). Entering his 15th year as a professional, Kamara is one of only 10 MLS players to soccer 100 goals (128 and counting), contributing 45 assists in over 350 appearances.
Currently, Kamara is a member of Helsinki IFK in the Finnish top division. When he's not playing soccer, Kei likes to spend time with his wife Kristin and three children - Kierin, Kendrick, Kaelan, and dog Chelsea (affectionately named after his favorite soccer team). If you know him you will know that family is his number one priority whether in Sierra Leone or in America.