Donna and Ed Kelce made headlines earlier this year when their two sons, players on the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs, competed against each other in the Super Bowl LVII.
In February, the two became the first ever NFL parents to have sons on opposite sides of a matchup on football’s biggest stage. And the two are back in the news again after Donna Kelce sat next to Taylor Swift during the Chiefs game Sunday, Sept. 24.
The family of four grew up with humble roots in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, where Donna Kelce and Ed Kelce met and were married for over 20 years.
Here’s what to know about some of the most iconic parents in football.
Donna was the first person in her family to graduate from college
While appearing on a parents episode of the Kelce brothers’ podcast, “New Heights,” Feb. 6 prior to the 2023 Super Bowl, Donna Kelce, nee Blalock, said that she grew up in inner city Cleveland in a “small house” with her grandparents living upstairs.
After moving to the suburbs in fourth grade, the mom of two said own mother was “very ill” and passed away when she was 12 and her brother was 10. Following her biological mother’s death, Donna Kelce said her dad married a “wonderful human being” named Mary.
“(Mary) raised Don and I,” Donna Kelce said, referring to her brother. “And, by the grace of God, if we didn’t have her, I don’t think we would have made it through.”
Mary motivated Donna Kelce to go to college, despite the reluctance of her father, who wanted her to attend secretary school. After earning a degree in broadcast communications from Ohio University, Donna Kelce became the first person in her family to graduate from college.
But Donna Kelce chose not to pursue a career in communications. She went back to school for her masters and ended up in banking.
Ed comes from a long line of military veterans
On the same podcast episode with his sons, Ed Kelce said he was the oldest of two children and grew up in the Collinwood neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio.
“Blue collar town, blue collar part of Cleveland, great neighborhood,” he said on the podcast of his childhood. “It was a lot of fun.”
After graduating from high school, Ed Kelce said he initially attended Ohio State University, but went home after about a “quarter and a half.” He said he took credits at two other schools and wound up with about a year of collegiate-level education under his belt.
Ed Kelce then went to work in the steel industry, eventually becoming a sales rep who sold products to manufacturers, he explained in a February interview with the Los Angeles Times.
“I’d take them there — hard hat, safety glasses, boots, the whole nine yards,” he told the publication of bringing his sons to work. “I’d tell them,’ You can have a job like your mother’s, or you can have a job like mine.’”
At one point, he attempted to join the Marines to follow in the footsteps of generations of family members who served in the U.S. military. However, the Marines, nor the Army, would accept him due to a knee injury from high school football that still impacted him.
He began training with the Coast Guard, but explained to his sons on the podcast that he had to drop out because his Crohn’s disease was “acting up” for the first time in his life.
Ed Kelce also revealed on the podcast that he worked part time at a candy store around Christmas in order to pay for gifts for his family.
“I had two kids that I was crazy about,” he said of his reason for taking on the additional work. “I don’t think I’m unique in that.”
Donna and Ed describe how they met the first time
Donna Kelce recounted her meet cute with Ed on the podcast. As the story goes, they first met at the popular Cleveland bar Fagan’s after work.
“He came up to me with the illustrious pickup line, which was, ‘Did you say Joe?’ And I said, ‘No.’ And he said, ‘Oh I thought you said Joe.’ I said, ‘Is your name Joe?’ And he said, ‘No, it’s Ed,'” she recalled, as the three of them laughed.
But Donna Kelce had another date she was supposed to be at while chatting the night away with Ed Kelce.
“I was supposed to go out with a guy that night. We were supposed to go to a play and I never made it,” she said. “Your dad and I talked forever … It was meant to be. It’s just the way it was.”
Ed Kelce said that he didn’t remember that his former wife stood up her date, nor that he used that pickup line.
But he did recall Donna Kelce giving him a ride home to shower and change after his day in the Steel Mill. He said they then continued their conversation at another nearby bar called “The No Name.”
They were together for over 20 years before getting a divorce
Donna and Ed Kelce open up about the end of their marriage in the documentary “Kelce,” focusing on their older son. While the couple say they would have “preferred” to have split early on, they stayed together for the kids.
“If we had split as we probably both would have preferred, that would have been a nightmare with the logistics, getting kids where they had to be and providing all the support,” Ed Kelce said in “Kelce”.
They remained amicable. On the “New Heights” podcast, Donna Kelce said they’re “friends to this day.”
She continued, “We get along great, it’s just sometimes people move apart.”
Ed Kelce shared a similar sentiment, telling the two that he wants “nothing but happiness for (their) mother.”
After Jason Kelce asked each of his parents separately if they regret marrying one another, they both quickly responded no, with Donna Kelce adding, “Because I got you two.”
Donna Kelce said she and her former husband were a “tag team” raising their two boys and “did all these fun things.”
“It was perfect,” she said. “You got to do whatever sports you wanted. You got to go on all the tournaments. You got to everything and it worked out.”
Ed coached Jason and Travis in baseball growing up
After asking their dad to recount which organized sport first inspired their passion for the game, Ed Kelce reminded them that their love began on their living room floor.
“The first thing you did was you were a toddler on the living room floor and you rolled a ball to me, you rolled it back and we played that way and that’s where it all started,” he said on the “New Heights” podcast.
Growing up in Cleveland Heights, Ed Kelce coached both his sons in baseball, both tee-ball and coach pitch baseball. He even built them areas to play sports in their garage and threw a ball around with his two boys in their front yard.
Though he beamed talking about his sons’ athletic abilities from a young age, Ed Kelce said he always reminded his sons the value of hard work and humility — both as a coach and as a dad.
“I didn’t like you being on the team where you were the stud,” he said to Jason Kelce and Travis Kelce. “I wanted you on a team where you had to work harder.”
Donna and Ed are grandparents
In 2019, Donna Kelce and Ed Kelce became grandparents when Jason Kelce and his wife, Kylie, welcomed daughter Wyatt. The couple has since welcomed two more girls, Elliotte and Bennett.
As of 2020, Ed Kelce lives a mile away from his first born son’s family, moving from Cleveland to Philadelphia on a nine-acre farm, according to the LA Times.
He told the publication that the move allows him more time with his granddaughters and the opportunity to help the family grow produce, the majority of which they donate to underprivileged families.
Donna Kelce shared a video montage of photos on Instagram in July from a summer trip to Disney World, set to the song “Moments We Live For.”
Jason and Travis inherited their athletic genes from their mom’s side
While in high school, Donna Kelce revealed on the podcast that she secretly ran track and field since her dad didn’t approve of her playing sports as a girl.
However, her stepmom encouraged her to get involved in athletics, where she went on to win “several medals” at the Junior Olympics in running and high jump, she told her sons on their podcast.
Donna Kelce added that her brother, Don Blalock, played football at Purdue University, as well.
Though he was heavily involved in his sons’ sports growing up, Ed Kelce said on that same podcast episode that the two inherited their “athletic ability probably from (their) mother.”
Ed says he sees himself in both of his sons
Seemingly to both Jason Kelce and Travis Kelce’s surprise, their dad revealed on “New Heights” that he sees parts of himself in both of his sons.
As they seemed to expect, Ed Kelce said he notices “mannerisms, tones, speech things, the way we talk and address people” that are similar to Jason Kelce.
“But as far as do I see more of myself in Jason than you?” he directed to Travis Kelce. “No, and in some ways it might be the other way.”
When pressed by both sons on what traits Travis Kelce resembles of his father, Ed Kelce declined to comment further, letting out a laugh.
Donna lied to Ed about who Travis was named after
When initially being asked by her two sons on the podcast about kids, Donna Kelce revealed that they were trying to have children about five years after getting married, “but it wasn’t working for whatever reason.”
But one day, she said she went in to her doctor’s office and was told, “‘You’re going to have a little one,’ and I went, ‘Whoa.’”
After Travis Kelce gave his brother a hard time for “being a mistake,” Jason Kelce fired back that their mom needed to admit that she wanted her second child to be a girl.
“I was hoping for a girl, but I got one! He’s a fashionista and a dancer!” she joked of Travis Kelce.
Donna Kelce also revealed that she told the boys’ father that she chose the name Travis after a character in the movie “Overboard,” when really she was picturing a daytime soap opera character.
“I just thought he was the most gorgeous man in the world, and I named you after him!” she said to her second-born son.
You’ve been saying the last name Kelce wrong — and so have Jason and Travis
Both football legends asked their dad on the podcast to clarify how to pronounce their last name since they found out when Jason Kelce was 27 and Travis Kelce was 25 that they’d been saying it wrong their whole lives.
Ed Kelce explained that their last name should actually be just one syllable, but most people he encountered pronounced it with two.
“I got tired of correcting people,” he said as his sons laughed.
When they asked their dad which pronunciation they should technically be using nowadays, he responded, “Do whatever you want, I did.”
They raised 2 Super Bowl winners, but never lost sight of what’s important
Both the Kelce parents agreed that their sons seemed gifted from a young age, but that didn’t necessarily put pro sports at the forefront of their minds.
When it came time for her sons to be drafted after both playing football at the University of Cincinnati, Donna Kelce said she only feared if the country would see Jason Kelce and Travis Kelce how she saw them.
“I knew you two would be able to,” she told her sons. “But you just don’t know how your children are going to relate nationally. You know that they might be the best kid in your city. They might be the most talented or athletic kid on the college team, but you don’t know how that is across the country.”
As for advice to up and coming NFL moms, Donna Kelce has two tidbits. For one, she advises all parents to tell their children that “no matter what anyone says, always believe in yourself.”
“No. 2, keep at it,” she continued. “Go up to teachers. Not the parent — the child has to do this. ‘What do I have to do to get more playing time? What do I need to work on?’ The parent cannot do it. They cannot be the ones that are on the coach’s backs all the time. It’s got to come from the kid.”
Ed Kelce made a point on his sons’ podcast that parents who want to raise kids who one day are competing at professional level, should “feed a passion for athletics, not the NFL.”
As for this past Super Bowl, both parents wouldn’t say on the podcast which team they were rooting for. When Jason Kelce and Travis Kelce asked their dad, he responded with, “Kelce!”
“I’m going to be screaming the entire game, whoever has the ball,” Donna Kelce said. “I want it to be the highest scoring game, Super Bowl, ever, in the history of Super Bowls.”
Donna Kelce reminded them that the February sibling rivalry would be far more lighthearted than when they each were in their first respective Super Bowls.
“This one is just going to be pure joy, pure fun — you’re both in there!” she said. “How can it get any better than this? It’s going to be the best day ever.”
The Chiefs beat the Eagles 38-35 on Feb. 12, but Donna Kelce repped both teams for the entire matchup.
Before and after the big win (or big loss), the mother-sons trio has been pictured all over sports media, most recently in commercials for Campbell’s.