George Kittle and his wife, Claire, were married this past April, but it wasn’t exactly love at first sight for the couple.
“I was getting on my moped to go to basketball practice and we had a team rule and you had to wear helmets,” Claire told NBC Sports Bay Area. “I had a bright pink, almost like motorcycle helmet with the shield and everything.
“He’s walking to his moped as well, and he looks at me and he goes, ‘Hey, nice helmet.’
“And I just look at him and say, 'Thanks,' and then drove off. And I probably gunned it really fast as I was pulling away.”
Not exactly a typical love story, but it is stories like these that demonstrate the effervescent personality that is at the core of who George Kittle really is.
“I think this is something that I've seen more as he's gotten older or more that I recognized that he's really good at being present in any moment,” Kittle’s sister Emma said.
“I remember he was real outgoing, wasn’t shy of anybody,” Kittle’s college and professional teammate C.J. Beathard said. “A lot of guys come in as freshman and they’re kind of reserved and shy, and he was one of the guys going around, you could tell he wasn’t very shy.”
Beathard and Kittle started alongside each other at Iowa for two seasons, and have been teammates since 2012 from Iowa City to the Bay Area.
“He was a really good teammate,” Beathard said. “Always positive, never talked negative to guys. He’s one of those guys that lifted guys up, never really got on guys for doing something wrong.”
“He always had such a big personality and everybody was just kind of drawn to him,” Claire said.
“You could tell I mean, he just he was a joy to be around,” said Greg Nation, Kittle’s high school coach. “He was fun. He was upbeat. Whether it was in the weight room, on the game field, in the hall, it didn't matter. He was just one of those guys. He loved life. Loved being around people and friends.”
Even in his early days as a prep football player, Kittle evoked all the qualities of a leader on the field.
“You know, he's vocal,” Nation said. “I think his biggest thing for George is, he wears his feelings on his sleeve.”
“I guess he loved being part of a team,” Kittle’s mother Jan said. “He always wanted everyone to succeed, and so he was always coaching in a respectful way, not to overstep boundaries with the coach.”
That leadership has translated to the NFL, where Kittle is now one of the most valued players in the locker room, despite being in just his third NFL season.
“He would be the one to make everybody feel better,” Claire said. “Just let a joke pop off in the room and just make that awkwardness go away. He makes everybody laugh. He's very inclusive and he likes literally everyone. So he's just a happy, happy guy doing what he loves.”