Cortez Kennedy was born on August 23, 1968, in Osceola, Arkansas, but grew up in Wilson, Arkansas. After graduating from Rivercrest High School in Wilson, where he helped lead his team to the 3-A State Championship in 1985, Kennedy attended Northwest Mississippi Community College.
He then won a football scholarship to the University of Miami where he received All-American honors in 1989. In 1990, Kennedy was the third overall selection in the National Football League (NFL) draft. Drafted by the Seattle Seahawks, he played his entire eleven-season career with that team (1990 – 2000).
As an NFL player, Kennedy was a powerhouse and his achievements are numerous, including eight Pro Bowl selections; three First-team All-Pro and two Second-team All- Pro selections; NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1992; NFL 1990s All-Decade Team and he is an inductee into both the Seattle Seahawks’ and Miami Hurricanes’ Ring of Honor. Kennedy was also inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and the University of Miami’s Sports Hall of Fame. In 2012, Kennedy was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.