Former Buckeye defensive back Chimdi Chekwa says he hasn't changed much since time at OSU

Lori Schmidt
The Columbus Dispatch

Some athletes have trouble transitioning to their post-playing careers.

Chimdi Chekwa, an Ohio State All-American defensive back in 2010, is not one of them.

Chimdi Chekwa says his life has long been about juggling sports, business interests and charity work.

"I think being an athlete is something that I did – or still do," he laughed, citing his love of playing pickup basketball. "I think business now is something that is a big, big part of my life. But I don't think either is where my identity lies, to be honest.

"Who I am is someone that I continue to find out more and more about every day. I think Christian first, and my purpose is to do my best to love other people and really try to build up others."

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That was the case when he was taking business classes, winning academic All-Big honors and recording 29 career pass break-ups during his time with the Buckeyes. It was the case during his final year in the NFL when he was with Dolphins and earning a master's in business from the University of Miami.

It's the case now.

Chimdi Chekwa was an Ohio State All-American defensive back in 2010.

Chekwa's NFL career ended in 2016 when he tore a hamstring tendon off the bone where it connects to the knee.

He explored coaching, instructing cornerbacks at Ohio Dominican for a year.

"Loved it," Chekwa said. "Enjoyed doing that, but it didn't generate the income that I wanted. I didn't want to go through the process of rising up the ranks and going from school to school. I wanted to stay here in Columbus."

The Raiders drafted Chimdi Chekwa, left, from Ohio State in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL draft.

He accomplished that by interning for Aimpoint Research. He was able to rise up the ranks from there and currently serves as a senior analyst at the company doing strategic analysis and market research.

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He does somewhat similar work for a new NIL venture KLOUTMachine, which matches up athletes with local businesses to try to ensure both get the highest return on investment.

KLOUTMachine measures how marketable an athlete is by monitoring such things as on-field stats, media mentions and social media engagement. Chekwa says the company educates athletes on how to improve their scores. For businesses, the company offers advice on how and when to hire a student-athlete and then measures how profitable that decision was.

"This is something that I've been passionate about for a while," Chekwa said. "I got to a point where my jersey was being sold in stores my senior year ... but also being a business major, understanding that I have created this level of interest, in line with Ohio State, but I've generated this level of personal interest, and there's no way to monetize it in college."

More than being disappointed that he was unable to monetize his name, image and likeness, Chekwa feels he could have benefited from the experience of being able to run his own business. As it was, that had to wait until he, fellow former Buckeye Bryant Browning and two other partners opened the Pit BBQ grille in 2016.

The restaurant is based in central Ohio, as is Chekwa himself. He lives in Lewis Center with his wife Xia, whom he met at OSU, daughter Elia, 5, and son Elisha, 2.

Former Ohio State football players, from left, Chimdi Chekwa, Bryant Browning, and D'Andre Martin, along with Mike Johnson (not pictured), before the opening of the Clintonville location for The Pit BBQ Grille.

"I enjoyed Columbus," he said, "and I'm an analyst, so I am well aware of the Columbus economics and the growth potential as well."

He has also started joining his dad in traveling to Africa as part of the efforts of Greater Works Ministries International. Chekwa says his role has been to help widows earn incomes by, for instance, providing them cows.

And he just went to Nigeria, to the village where his parents were born and where his uncle is chief.

"It's who I am," he said of his charity work.

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