Celebrity Success Stories – Kaleb Thornhill
Kaleb Thornhill works as a PA by day, but on Tuesday evenings as an addiction volunteer he provides invaluable assistance for people suffering from addictions. Thornhill credits this volunteer experience with helping him cope with grief after experiencing his son’s passing.
Lansing Eastern and MSU alumni John Leach created Athlete Transition U, an organization which equips professional athletes with the education and experience to pursue successful business careers once their playing days have ended. Leach discusses his inspiration on this episode of SportsMoney.
Early Life and Education
Kaleb Thornhill developed a passion for football at an early age. His father, Charlie ‘Mad Dog’ Thornhill was an MSU middle linebacker during the 1960s.
Thornhill made his name as an NFL front office executive with both Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins before becoming injured during college, leading them into front office executive positions for both. A pioneer of player engagement, he pioneered player development by initiating player-oriented programs such as Business Combine in an effort to further their professional acumen while enriching life experiences for NFL players.
Thornhill volunteers every Tuesday evening at a Springfield church to counsel men and women struggling with addictions (to alcohol, prescription pills, drugs, food, pornography or any other substance), helping them face life’s challenges and accept life’s gifts. He has also served as a mentor for struggling college athletes. Thornhill and his wife Katie are expecting their second child later this summer.
Kaleb Thornhill made his NFL debut after four years at university with the Miami Dolphins, becoming their youngest ever draftee at just 21. Wearing No. 41 just like his father Charles “Mad Dog” Thornhill.
Thornhill has accomplished much on the field, yet his lasting legacy in the NFL can be found off it and in his community work. Through Athlete Transition U he offers business classes tailored specifically for current and former professional athletes.
He may hold the official title of director of player engagement, but those who know him best recognize that he serves much more than this role. He serves as confidant, mentor and advisor for players on his team and encourages them to establish lasting social connections outside of football that will outlive retirement from playing football.
Achievement and Honors
Kaleb Thornhill serves the Miami Dolphins front office as Director of Player Development. In this position, his duties include helping players transition into and out of the NFL as well as continuing education and financial education.
He assists players with building their brand and expanding their professional opportunities, while encouraging them to make social deposits in their community. He has an unwavering passion for forging meaningful relationships with his players and leading them through life-altering experiences.
Kaleb Kalebs’ older son Josh played linebacker for the Spartans and earned four letters. Marcus Kaleb was diagnosed with a brain tumor last year and is undergoing treatment, receiving support from fans such as hosting a lemonade stand where local children raised money to donate directly.
After an impressive college career, Kaleb Thornhill found success in the NFL. While working as a front office executive with Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins teams, his lasting legacy lies off-field – Kaleb spearheaded an innovative program called Dolphins Business Combine that provided players with vital tools for life after football.
Experience gained as part of his time with the Spartans has proven invaluable in his professional life; now serving as Director of Player Development with the Dolphins.
He is an avid sports fan who lives up to his father’s legacy of placing others before himself. Additionally, he devotes considerable time and energy to volunteering within his local community and finds this aspect of his career particularly satisfying.
Kaleb Thornhill has made it his mission as Director of Player Engagement for the Miami Dolphins to foster growth among his players and create opportunities for personal and professional development among NFL clients. He does this through teaching them entrepreneurialism, personal branding and business acumen.
He also spearheads an annual “business combine,” where both current and former professional athletes can explore industries they’re interested in – with speakers like Maverick Carter, Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks, and Compass real estate CEO Robert Reffkin participating as speakers.
Thornhill graduated with two degrees from Michigan State University – bachelors and masters degrees in social science and education– and now lives with his family in Weston, Florida, alongside Tara. Their children, Charlee and Maddox reside with them. Together, they give back to Lansing through APEX Academy.