Christopher Harris Jr. was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 18, 1989. From a very early age it was clear that Chris was a natural-born athlete. As a student at Bixby High School, Chris earned all-state honors in both football and basketball, while also earning varsity letters in track. In the end, Chris’s passion and talent in football prevailed and that became his focus as he moved onto college.
Harris attended college and played football at the University of Kansas. Although KU is not traditionally known for their football program, Chris managed one of the most successful football careers the school had ever seen. Always a leader, Chris served as Team Captain his senior year and earned Defensive Back of the Year honors. By the end of his college career, Chris has landed himself at #2 on the Kansas football all-time tackles list.
Despite a successful college career, Chris was not selected in the 2011 NFL draft. For the first time, Chris began to realize that he was an underdog and that if he wanted to play in the NFL he would need to take his game to the next level. Luckily, Chris was more than up for the challenge. Chris continued to train harder than ever and eventually earned an invitation to the Denver Broncos training camp.
Upon joining camp, Chris was not considered by coaches to be a likely candidate to make the team. But once again with his back against the wall, Chris worked hard at practice to prove to everyone that he deserved to make the team. And that is exactly what he did. Chris concluded his rookie season with impressive stats – a total of 72 tackles (62 solos), six special teams tackles, six pass breakups and an interception. Finishing his rookie year, Harris was voted on Denver’s All-Rookie Team, Breakout Player of the Year and Overachiever of the Year.
Chris’s success for the Broncos continued in 2012. Chris started a career-high 12 games, wherein he set a personal best 12 passes defended and 2.5 sacks, and finished the season ranked 5th in the NFL in receiving yards allowed. Chris also scored his first career touchdown and recorded his first multi-interception game in Week 6 at San Diego. Finally, in a playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens, Chris intercepted a pass from Ravens Quarterback Joe Flacco and returned it 98 yards for a touchdown – the longest interception return in Broncos history.
But Chris’s passions aren’t limited to on-the-field activities. In spring of 2013, the Chris Harris Jr. Foundation officially launched. The Chris Harris Jr. Foundation’s primary focus is to support what Chris refers to as ‘underdogs’ – individuals, particularly children, who are at a disadvantage because of circumstances beyond their control. Chris attributes much of his success to the mentorship and opportunities he had growing up, so it was important to Chris to seek out other underdogs whom he could help to reach their full potential.
Every summer Chris holds a free football camp for kids in Denver and Tulsa called Underdog Football Skills Academy. Chris and his wife Leah are active in Big Brothers & Big Sisters, each of them mentoring a child in addition to other initiatives with the organization. In addition, in 2013 Chris launched his Student Success Challenge. The goal of the program is to get kids to make pledges about school, chores, physical fitness and community service. Chris is also an active voice speaking out against domestic violence, a problem Chris believes we can begin to solve if male athletes and role models take a proactive stand against it.