Background and college
Born June 24, 1977 in Anderson, South Carolina, Ellis attended Westside High School in Anderson, South Carolina, where he was ranked among the nation’s top 100 prospects by Scholastic Coach Magazine, adding all-state honors twice and all-region accolades three times. He recorded 174 tackles and 35 sacks during senior campaign and helped lead his school to 12-2 record and state semifinals, and also earned all-state honors in basketball at Westside.
Ellis was a stand-out defensive end at the University of Tennessee. At the end of his college career he had 105 tackles, 12.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and one interception which he returned for 90 yards to score a touchdown.
As a Jet
Ellis was selected by the Jets in the first round (12th overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft. He was the first of four first round draft picks that the Jets had that year. Ellis was an immediate impact player and in his rookie season recorded 8.5 sacks. Only Hugh Douglas in 1995 with 10 sacks ranks higher in Jets history for most sacks by a rookie. After 2001 and 2002 campaigns which saw his overall numbers drop, Ellis rebounded in 2003 finishing third in AFC with a career-high 12.5 sacks, as well as 109 tackles, and earning a trip to the Pro Bowl. Ellis followed up his 2003 season with 11 sacks in 2004. Ellis anchored a strong Jets run defense which contributed to a 10-6 season and a wild card berth. He also recorded three sacks in the final game of the 2004 regular season against the St. Louis Rams.
2005 would see a downturn, however. Ellis missed consecutive games, three in all, for first time in his career due to injury, and would finish the season with only 2.5 sacks, the worst performance of his career. He would double his tally for the 2006 season, one sack coming against New England, forcing a Tom Brady fumble to seal the win on the last play of the game. Ellis finished the 2007 season with five sacks, tying for the team lead and raising his career total to 53.5 sacks, enabling him to surpass Mo Lewis and tie John Abraham for fourth place all-time in franchise history. As of Week 13 of the 2008 season, Ellis has 7 sacks.
Ellis is Nicknamed “Big Katt” by the fans. He also has a wife, Cecile, a daughter, Keshona, and a son, Jordan.
Ellis was arrested in December 2008 for marijauna possession, driving without insurance, and speeding after a highway traffic stop in New Jersey.
This is not Ellis' first brush with the law. While a student at Tennessee, Ellis was charged with felony assault of a woman in April 1999. He was charged with striking a woman in the head with a glass after she threw a drink in his face at a party. Ellis agreed to pay the woman's medical bills, and had to undergo an assessment to see if he neededed drug or alcohol treatment, and maintain a 2.5 grade point average.