Travis Kelce’s Ex Kayla Nicole Shares Powerful Message Addressing “Backlash”

Kayla Nicole—who dated Travis Kelce from 2017 to 2022—shared a moving open letter about her "truth, trauma, and vulnerability" amid her ex's rumored romance with Taylor Swift.

By Gabrielle Chung Oct 10, 2023 8:48 PMTags
Watch: Travis Kelce’s Ex Shares Open Letter Amid "Backlash"

Kayla Nicole knows her worth.

The sportscaster and fitness influencer shared an inspirational message to "elevate and unite women, Black women specifically" amid her ex Travis Kelce's rumored romance with Taylor Swift.

Addressing comments from online trolls about her past with the Kansas City Chiefs star, Kayla read from an open letter in an Oct. 9 Instagram video."Dear Black girl, they may call you a traitor for falling in love," she shared in the clip. "You'll hope the ones closest will protect you, but you will quickly find out that people don't protect what they don't value."

"They'll say you're too much, too provocative, too boisterous, too outspoken, and in the same breath, tell you that you aren't enough," she continued. "They'll say you deserve the backlash and embarrassment. Because of your Blackness, you should have known better. They'll even try to tie your value to your net worth. But Black girl, please remember your value lies elsewhere. Your value is deep within your heart." 

photos
Why Travis Kelce Could Be "The 1" for Taylor Swift

Describing online hate as a "tumultuous, often one-sided journey," the 33-year-old encouraged listeners to take the high road in the face of negativity.

"Preserve your heart, even when they try to quantify your character and test your boundaries, you do not have to engage," she said. "You do not have to respond because there is power in your silence."

 

Rich Fury/WireImage

Kayla added that the "same power" can be used to "silence the noise and the voices that want you to give in to this demoralizing and antiquated narrative."

"My truth, trauma, and vulnerability is a relatable part of the human experience," she said. "I know I'm not alone and I want to make sure you know that you're not either. On days when I feel most inadequate, I have to remind myself that I am, have been, and will always be more than enough."

Acknowledging that "we love, we hurt, we heal," Kayla told listeners that ultimately "your story is yours to tell."

"When you feel like nobody knows or understands what it takes to be you, remember that you are a part of something way bigger," she said. "Most importantly, I want you to remember that you are loved. You are valued. You are allowed to take up space. You deserve protection and your feelings—they matter too."

 

Kayla started dating Travis, 34, in 2017 after the two connected on social media. "I didn't just go through every single pic and just start liking it immediately," the athlete recalled the early days of their relationship in an interview with E! News last year. "It was over the course of a month's span, just following her and liking the pictures that she was posting and watching all of her stories when stories had first started coming out."

 

Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Eventually, according to Travis, Kayla "gave in" and "jumped in my DMs and the rest is history."

Their relationship fizzled out after five years together, with Travis confirming that he was "in the free market" regarding his love live this January.

However, the NFL star put the ball in Taylor's court this summer, when he revealed that he had tried to give the pop star a friendship bracelet with his number on it during one of her Eras Tour concerts. And it seems she did not shake off his attempt to shoot his shot.

After all, in late September, Taylor, 33, was spotted cheering on Travis at one of his football game, sparking romance rumors and online buzz amongst both Swifties and the NFL community

For more interesting facts about Travis, keep reading.

He's a Family Man

Nothing beats the playful but protective bond between Travis Kelce and his big brother, Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce. Mom Donna Kelce and dad Ed Kelce are long divorced but the whole family is close and the parents systematically "divide and conquer," Ed told the Los Angeles Times, so at least one of them is at each of their sons' games.

Travis is also the "perfect uncle," according to Jason, 35, who shares daughters Wyatt, turning 4 on Oct. 2, Elliotte, 2, and Bennett, 7 months, with his wife of five years, Kylie Kelce.

"My daughters, they're so drawn to him immediately—partly because he's gorgeous," Jason quipped to E! News at the premiere of the Prime Video documentary Kelce, "but then also he's just a fun human being. He's exciting. He has energy for days."

Though Travis' eldest niece might still need some convincing. In an adorable video Jason shared, Wyatt heatedly informs her uncle he is not allowed to have pink hair because, she tells him emphatically, "You're naughty and you're sneaky!" Sigh, but at least Travis may be able to win over Bennett, the moment he first held her captured for posterity in Kelce.

Travis Learned From His Timeouts

Travis has cited two "humbling" experiences from his past that made him realize there were more important things than just having a good time.

Growing up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Travis was booted from his high school football team after failing French, so he missed playing with Jason during his brother's senior year. And "even more embarrassing, when it means more," Travis recalled on the Jan. 10 episode of The Pivot podcast, the same thing happened at the University of Cincinnati when he was suspended for the entire 2010 season after testing positive for marijuana.

He felt like he'd embarrassed not just his family, but the whole community who'd supported him, he explained. So when it was time to work his way back onto the team (and switch from quarterback to tight end), "I had guidelines I had to go through," he recalled, "and it created routine and structure in my life that I hadn't taken serious up until that point. Once I found that routine, I began to use that in every aspect of my life."

Jason Kelce Has His Brother's Back

Travis made a triumphant return for the Bearcats and was named Tight End of the Year at the College Football Performance Awards after the 2012 season. But, despite thinking he'd be a high pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, he didn't get the call until the third round.

Ultimately it was Jason who put in a good word with incoming Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who'd worked with the elder Kelce brother on the Eagles and was willing to take a chance on the reputationally challenged Travis.

Knowing his sibling—who also let him move in when he lost his scholarship—vouched for him both in college and the NFL, Travis reflected to Vanity Fair this year, "I'm forever in debt to this guy for putting his name, our name, putting his honor on the line to get me another chance. When I say I owe it all to him, I really do."

Though they can all laugh about it now, Travis joking in his SNL monologue, "Just goes to show you, if you're bad at school and smoke weed, you can win the Super Bowl twice."

He's Got Big Post-Football Plans

Hosting SNL was a dream come true for Travis—who said at the very least he plans to play through his current contract, which ends in 2025—but he's only getting started when it comes to the wider world of non-sports entertainment. In addition to hosting the New Heights podcast with Jason and keeping his comedic chops sharp in commercials for State Farm and Campbell's Soup, he signed with Creative Artists Agency and has let it be known he's up for... well, we shall see.

"I don't know if what I want to do has really been done yet," he told Vanity Fair.

Sports broadcasting could certainly be in his future, Travis noting, "I could sit there, talk football, and make it relatable. I could get into the scheme of things. I could make it make sense to the people who are just now getting into it. And I could bring the juice."

The Kelces Aren't Matchmakers

Suffice it to say, Travis has a lot of people invested in his long-term happiness, but they've stayed out of his private life. Unless they're joking about it.

"Kylie infamously fell in love with me on Tinder, so maybe she can give you some tips," Jason teased Travis on the Sept. 6 episode of New Heights. Asked if she preferred mustache or no 'stache for his profile pic, Kylie advised her brother-in-law to keep his current facial hair, because "if they'd swipe right at your worst, then they'll love you at your best."

To which Travis replied, "That doesn't even hurt my feelings, this is smart. It's genius."

Who Caught Kelce?

Travis' Catching Kelce journey started with 50 potential love interests, one woman from each state. He dated his ultimate pick, Maya Benberry of Kentucky, for a few months.

"She's an absolutely wonderful girl," Travis told E! News of his then-secret girlfriend ahead of the series' premiere in October 2016. It was tough having to keep the outcome a secret, he said, but "I wouldn't have picked her if I didn't feel a certain way about her."

And yet he admitted he wasn't in a rush for the end zone. "I have always been the just let it roll [type]," he explained, "and take advantage of the opportunities when they come about. I've always been a very success-driven person, too, so I'm very focused on trying to get my career somewhere. That and I'm still getting to know her and, to be honest, marriage is a huge step that it takes a while to get to know you're ready for."

Maya said when all was revealed, "I just feel like the luckiest girl in the world. For that to be my man, and he's really my man now, it's just amazing that my dream guy is now mine!"

But the life coach and brand consultant isn't exactly rooting for Travis these days, telling DailyMail.com after Taylor Swift's cameo at his game, "Taylor seems like such a fun girl with a beautiful spirit so I wish her the best of luck but I wouldn't be a girls' girl if I didn't advise her to be smart! I'm sure by now she has mastered the ability to see who is really there for her—and who is just using her."

A Longer Run

Travis said recently on New Heights that "DMs can work every now and then" when it comes to meeting people, and he spoke from experience.

He made his presence known on influencer Kayla Nicole's Instagram in 2017, liking her photos and clicking through her Instagram Story. "I didn't just go through every single pic and just start liking it immediately," he assured E! News in February 2022. But she noticed him noticing her, Travis continued, "and then finally on New Year's, she gave in. And, you know, New Year, new me. She just shot her shot, jumped in my DMs and the rest is history."

Kayla was Travis' date to teammate Patrick Mahomes' March 12, 2022, wedding in Hawaii, but their relationship ended later that year.

"I'm in the free market right now," Travis said—regarding his personal life, because with pro athletes, one should specify—on The Pivot in January. "I'm out there just enjoying life, focused on my profession."

A Swift Recovery

Which brings us to Sept. 24, 2023, the latest step in the previously one-sided dance Travis had been doing for months.

With the Travilor (you're welcome) narrative already spiraling wildly out of hand, he said on The Pat McAfee Show Sept. 20 that he had invited Taylor to come watch him play—seeing as he'd already watched her play.

"So, we'll see what happens in the near future," Travis said, adding that the ball was "in her court," metaphors flying every which way. 

Four days later, Taylor—a professed Eagles fan—wore a Chiefs windbreaker and matching New Balance kicks and looked perfectly comfortable hanging out with Donna, so much so she uttered the "Let's f--king go!" deciphered 'round the world. Her condiment of choice is being bottled and sold, and Monday-morning quarterbacks have already mapped out Taylor and Travis' dueling schedules for the next six months.

So Is It Gonna Be Forever?

The pair were seen getting into Travis' 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle convertible at the stadium after the game and literally driving into the sunset. Romeo didn't take her somewhere they could be alone, but he saved a seat for her at the after-party.

Yet while you should definitely bet on the entire NFL's pun returns to reach record highs this season, don't expect to get much dirt from Team Kelce.

In a Sept. 20 radio interview, Jason said he thought the rumors Travis and Taylor were dating were "100 percent true," but he was 99 percent joking ("The guy is absolutely ridiculous," Travis said on The Pat McAfee Show, "please everybody stop asking my brother!"). And Mahomes said after the Sept. 24 game that he wasn't even sure if Travis was serious when he casually mentioned that Taylor was going to be there. 

"He told me at, like, the last minute," the Chiefs quarterback told reporters. "There are some things with Trav where he kind of just says it and you don't know if it's true or not."

A few days after it turned out to be true, Mahomes called Taylor "really cool, good people," speaking to reporters at the team facility. "But like Trav said, man, I'm going to let them have their privacy and just keep it moving."

Chief Concerns

"Nobody does anything crazy to get my attention as far as guys," Taylor lamented in a 2012 Extra interview (thank you, TikTokers, for the resurrection). "Like, I can't remember so I guess there hasn't been anything. Which is good, so it's easier, the bar is set really low for anyone I date in the future to come in and be, like, a great guy. I'll be like, 'Oh, you exist? This is so crazy!'"

Coincidentally, that's what many Swifties had to say about Travis, the rumored coupling triggering a debate between those convinced that Taylor put the eight-time Pro Bowl pick on the map and those who pay attention to football. 

But now we know what becomes of curious minds.

During the "No Dumb Questions" segment of the Sept. 27 episode of New Heights, which currently has 2 million views on YouTube, Jason and Travis received a few more rudimentary inquiries than usual, such as "What's a field goal?" from @ISaidSpeakNow and, per @TheMadWomanIsMe, "Do you throw the ball or run with it?"

"I did this to myself, Jason," Kelce acknowledged, referring to allll of it, from the paparazzi outside his house to the slo-mo replays of the action inside the visitors' suite. "I know this."

For the latest breaking news updates, click here to download the E! News App