Kazmaier was born November 23, 1930, in Toledo, Ohio, the only child of Richard and Marian Kazmaier. He graduated from Maumee High School in Ohio in 1948. He played football (four years), basketball (four years), track and field (four years), baseball (four years) and golf (one year) earning a letter each year in each sport. He was recruited by 23 colleges, most offering full scholarships.
In 2007, during a Maumee football game against Perrysburg, Kazmaier was honored by having his jersey number (#42) retired. He also donated his Heisman Trophy to Maumee High School, where it is displayed inside a glass case in the main hallway. The stadium at Maumee High School is named in his honor. His daughter, the late Patty Kazmaier-Sandt, was an All-Ivy member of the Princeton women's ice hockey team who died in 1990 at the age of 28 from a rare blood disease. The Patty Kazmaier Award, which was established by Kazmaier to memorialize his daughter, is given to the top woman college ice hockey player in the United States at the annual Women's Frozen FourNCAA championship.
Kazmaier died on August 1, 2013, in Boston from heart and lung disease. He was 82 and is survived by his wife of 60 years, the former Patricia Hoffmann, five daughters, and several grandchildren. He was predeceased by daughter Patty Kazmaier-Sandt.