• Jamie Rothberg

Khiry Shelton as #14


Most children at three years old are learning nursery toons and asking too many questions. Khiry Shelton wasn't like most. When Khiry was three, he was living in Germany with his family. There were kids playing soccer and as soon as Khiry saw the ball in motion, he was in love. Five years later, eight-year-old Khiry was turning his soccer playing hobby into a work-hard obsession.

"The only thing I wanted to do was play soccer and be good at it."


Khiry's childhood revolved around moving quite a bit. His father, Mike, was in the army. Because of this, the Sheltons moved from place to place, never really planting permanent roots and creating a home. Khiry was born in Colorado, but moved to Germany until he was six years old.

Khiry's parents were competitive (in a loving way), but Khiry grew up competing with his brother, Kyler. It wasn't just their names that were similar.

There was sometimes "frustration, anger, and many other mixed emotions that come with being a kid who has a brother that's just like you."

From Germany to Colorado Springs, to Austin, Texas, Khiry finally was able to settle down. He attended Vista Ridge High School, located on the outskirts of Austin. Khiry ended up at Oregon State University where he was able to play soccer at a D1 school.

After four years of playing college soccer, Khiry had the "opportunity to enter the draft after a fabulous senior season at Oregon State University."

Khiry's hard work at college paid off. "I ended up getting drafted in the first round, second draft pick, to New York City Football Club. Leading up to the draft you have to attend a combine and perform different skills and showcase yourself in games."

And showcase, he did.

From 2015-2017, Khiry played for NYC FC and was traded to Sporting Kansas City in December of 2017, where he continues his career today.


To this day, years after playing the game, Khiry's most favorable moment continues to be "walking across the stage at the draft and approaching the podium was just like, 'okay, we have done it.' And by we I mean my family. We have accomplished this goal and dream of mine together."

Khiry explains training days as draining and demanding, but rewarding all the same. The team eats breakfast together, trains all morning, then clean up for a team lunch. Khiry has to work his body physically and mentally, but enjoys every minute of it.

Khiry couldn't get where he was today alone. His family has served as his support team for the past 24 years.

"My parents were the backbone and the only ones I really looked up to growing up," Khiry explains. "My father preached 'hard work' is only going to make you better and become the backbone of who I am. My mother made sure I had everything I needed in order to perform at top level, even when things were out of budget for us."

Khiry had constant support from his family growing up, but now he only sees them roughly thirty days out of the whole year.

Luckily, we now have technology that allows us to keep in touch with the ones we love even in different states, different time zones.

Khiry uses FaceTime and texting to his advantage. "To keep myself from being homesick, I’ll call or shoot each one of them a text (pretty much everyday) and drop a little note saying, 'I love you, hope you have a wonderful day' or I call once or twice a week just so I can hear their voice or even sometimes FaceTime them."

Khiry knows he is creating a kick-ass career, but his family is who made him who he is today.

"I’m going after something and have the best family behind me."

Khiry's main heroes are his parents, but his professional hero is Ronaldinho. Professional Brazilian soccer player Ronaldinho was Khiry's favorite player to watch. Khiry was mesmerized by the moves Ronaldinho had, what he was able to do with the ball.

Now Khiry is the one turning tricks on the field. Over the years, Khiry's nerves have settled before each game.

"I honestly don't get nervous before games anymore. I believe I’ve been playing long enough to know how to control each emotion I feel."

Some players have rituals before they step on the field. Khiry, who identifies himself as a religious person, definitely has superstitions. But those remain a secret. However, he did mention that he calls his parents before every game just to say, "I love you."

Khiry knows how fortunate he is to be where he is today, but that doesn't make him any less humble.


"I would like to say live life to the fullest and be happy doing it. No matter what it is you want to accomplish in life, it can be done if you work hard and dedicate yourself to it. Figure out ways to enjoy whatever it is that drives you and give it your all."

To check out Khiry and his adorable pupper, Zeus, follow him @khiryshelton



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Jamie Rothberg | Writer | Chicago

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