Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: Ken Braid

Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: Ken Braid

Forty-four years ago today, Ken Braid became the eighth recipient of the University of Illinois football program's Bruce Capel Award, an honor presented to the most courageous Fighting Illini player.

The undersized senior linebacker from Hinsdale Central High School missed all of his junior season in 1971 due to knee surgery, but bounced back with a vengeance in '72 to become one of Illinois's leading tacklers. Braid averaged nearly 11 tackles per game that season in Big Ten Conference play, recording 15 stops against both Indiana and Northwestern.

Braid co-captained coach Bob Blackman's third team in 1973 with John Gann and totaled 56 tackles in an injury-shortened 60 minutes of play.

A physical education major, Braid was a first-team academic All-Big Ten selection and graduated with a physical education degree in 1974. He went on to become a successful entrepreneur, specializing in overseas manufacturing.

In 1994, the death of Braid's only child, Kyle, prompted him to leave his career and devote his life to helping teenagers. Kyle committed suicide while under the influence of performance-enhancing steroids. Ken and his ex-wife, Colleen, founded the J. Kyle Braid Leadership Foundation with a ranch facility in Villa Grove, Colorado. That 20-year venture ended in 2014, but Braid has since developed a leadership program near his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to assistant high school coaches.

In 2008, Braid received the University of Illinois Humanitarian of the Year Award. He also is a member of the Hinsdale Central Hall of Fame.

Illini Birthdays:

Sunday: Eboni Mitchell, basketball

Monday: Brian Diedrich, football (64)

Tuesday: Sam Ellsworth, football (53)

Wednesday: Wagner Lester, football (47)

Thursday: Ben Newman, gymnastics (35)

Friday: Mason Minnes, football (67)

Saturday: Donnie Payne, baseball (45)

By Mike Pearson, author of Illini Legends, Lists & Lore (Third Edition now available in stores). Get more Illini birthdays, trivia and historical tidbits daily on Twitter@B1GLLL. His website is