49ers' Kinlaw, who grew up homeless, buys his first house

Javon Kinlaw

What a journey it has been for 49ers defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw. 

The 49ers' top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft announced Wednesday that he bought his first house after growing up homeless in Washington, D.C. after immigrating from Trinidad and Tobago. 

Kinlaw, 23, spoke on his upbringing at the 2020 Senior Bowl. 

"My mother is from Trinidad and Tobago, with my two older brothers, just growing up in northeast Washington, D.C. pretty much homeless," Kinlaw said to reporters at the Senior Bowl. "Living in basements, we went without electricity, no water, things like that. We had to use the neighbor's hose to fill up totes of water. We would take them back in the house -- we had gas, gas stove. We would light the stove with a little match or something, get a tall pot, boil the water, mix it with some cold water, put it in a bucket and take it upstairs, take a shower like that.

"But at a young age, we just thought that was normal. That's how we were living. We didn't know how everybody else was living. But we knew that's how we were living. And we were cool with that, especially me.

"But now that I look back at it, it was tough. It made me a man at a young age. I grew up early, definitely. Like I said man, I didn't think that it was that bad. I was so used to it. ... You just can't give up on yourself. Times definitely get rough. I didn't even expect myself to be here. I didn't expect myself to be a collegiate athlete, but I stuck it out. I stuck with it."


Kinlaw played one season at Jones Junior College before transferring to South Carolina for his final three years. 

RELATED: 49ers believe rookie Banks has physical qualities to thrive

As a rookie, Kinlaw played 14 games and started in 12. He recorded 33 tackles with four QB hits, four blocked passes and 1.5 sacks.

More importantly, he just took a major step in his life he never expected.

Download and subscribe to the 49ers Talk Podcast