Brother takes on brother at the Booth Saturday
Two of the sons of the late Kwamie Lassiter, a KU alumnus who played a decade in the NFL, were already very prominently reunited in Lawrence once this season.
Kwinton Lassiter, a senior cornerback for the Jayhawks, made his first career interception in the season opener against Missouri State and immediately handed the ball to his brother Kwamie II (“KJ”), a more recent KU standout and a practice-squad wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, on the sideline.
“Before the game he kind of said, ‘Get a pick and bring me the ball,'” Kwinton said the following week, “so it kind of worked out. He was right there.”
This week brings a third brother, Darius, back to Lawrence.
Darius, who like Kwinton attended Free State High and began his career at Butler Community College (the pair were teammates there in 2019), spent a distinguished year at Eastern Michigan before transferring to BYU.
He told reporters Monday that he had decided to “build (his) own legacy,” defying the crimson-and-blue tradition of his father and brothers, after KU didn’t offer him a scholarship out of Butler or recruit him once he was done at Eastern Michigan.
And so, a wideout like Kwamie, Darius will find himself on the opposite side of the ball from Kwinton on Saturday in the conference opener for both KU and BYU. (The last time the two teams played, in the 1992 Aloha Bowl, Kwinton and Darius’ father was the Jayhawks’ leading tackler in a narrow win for KU.)
Defensive coordinator Brian Borland, who said he didn’t know until recently that the two were related, has already gotten the scouting report from Kwinton.
“I kind of asked him what his weaknesses were so he thinks he’s got some things on him,” Borland said, “and probably the other way around as well.”
Kwinton, for his part, said he’s grateful to have the rare opportunity, which is the latest installment in a lifelong series of battles between the brothers.
“Anything in the house was competition,” Kwinton said Tuesday. “Who could probably drink the water the fastest would be competition.”
So far, on the field, both brothers are experiencing strong starts to the season, with two picks and a forced fumble for Kwinton and 116 yards and a touchdown for Darius.
“We always dreamed about either playing with each other or playing against each other, whether it be this level or the next level after that,” Darius said. “So just us having that opportunity in our first Big 12 game for BYU, it’s just great. It’s a blessing to even be in this position.”
photo by: Mike Gunnoe/Journal-World photo
He added that he and Kwinton usually talk pretty much every day, almost every week.
“We’re probably not going to talk so much this week, though,” Darius said with a smile. He posted as much on X Monday, tagging Kwinton, and Kwinton responded by joking about putting a bounty on his brother’s head. (Kwinton also said Tuesday that he called Darius’ bluff: “I called him right after, he picked up the phone.”)
The trash talk has been a fixture in Lassiter family conversations since Darius committed to BYU on May 2, allowing both brothers to circle their Sept. 23 date on opposite ends of the field.
“We kind of talked about it the day I signed at BYU,” Darius said. “We kind of just talked a little family trash between each other. I know I’m going to get the best out of him if we do get that matchup, and he’s going to get the best out of me.”
Darius said he teased older brother KJ, whom Kwinton said leans a little bit toward supporting KU in this matchup, last week by referring to KU as a “basketball school” in one of their conversations.
Darius will have a chance to walk the walk when he takes the field at a newly hostile David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium this week. And the game holds broader significance for his school as its first-ever Big 12 Conference matchup, plus a battle of early-season unbeatens. BYU has already polished off Sam Houston, Southern Utah and, in something of a surprise, Arkansas.
“We still got to go in preparation the same,” he said, “get ready for the games the same way we always have, but this time we just got to amp it up a little bit more.”
That complements the internal significance — and poignancy — of the brothers battling it out on one field, something Darius said his late father “wanted to see happen. We finally get to have it happen.”
“No matter what the score is or the outcome,” Darius said, “he just wants us to go out there, play our hardest out, with no regrets.”
photo by: AP Photo/Miles Kennedy