We need to talk about Tom Brady’s comments on Parenting
Last week, the GOAT QB opened up to Ford CEO Jim Farley on the Drive Podcast, saying that the hardest thing about parenting his three children was his wealth.
Wealth is the best kind of problem you can have, but make no mistake, it absolutely can be a problem.
I see people out here calling Tom Brady out for these comments like Kelly Price didn’t sing this exact truth 30 years ago.
It’s like the more problems we come across, the more problems we see.
Tom isn’t complaining about having money, he’s looking back fondly on his youth in a northern California middle class family, and on his supermodel wife’s upbringing in rural Brazil.
His kids aren’t going to know what it’s like to have anonymity, or privacy, or do any of the “normal” things that help ground somebody enough to appreciate a life of privilege once they’ve earned it.
Tom Brady and Giselle know a big reason they had unparalleled success in their fields comes from an upbringing that is impossible to turn around and give to their kids.
I’m not wealthy by Tom Brady standards but I’ve had the generational come-up, and it’s no big deal for my kids to regularly be hanging out around professional athletes or celebrities. Things that would have blown my mind growing up are completely regular occurrences for my kids.
Sometimes you wonder if your kids even know how sweet they have it when they haven’t experienced the same level of sour you have. And like Tom Brady went on to say in the interview, how do you impart to them that the sweet things they experience are treats, and not a baseline reality?
I’m not saying you need to feel sorry for Tom Brady, or me for that matter. But it is important to recognize that in a world where there’s a million things to be divided on, some things are universal- we all want the next generation to have enough adversity that it makes them, but not so much that it breaks them.
Yesterday was heavy. Just burdened with sorrow and grief. Sleep was far and few between. I found myself completely heartbroken for a man that I only met a couple of times. If Kobe Bryan’s death hurt me this much, I can’t imagine what each family is going through.
To the Bryant, Altobelli, Mauser, Chester and Zobayan families, we are all so sorry for your loss. Our prayers are with you in this horrible time.
Why did Kobe’s death hit so hard?
Is the loss of Kobe Bryant limited to basketball fans? Of course not! Yes, Kobe had the rings, the MVPs and all of the highlights. Watching him play on the court was something else. But, his legend surpasses his five rings and 81-point game.
His impact on the game of basketball, a city, and the world is now just being fully realized. It’s not the dunks, and-ones or championships that I remember most. Because I gained more from his interviews and wisdom in his later years than I did from watching him play. Kobe’s game was brilliant, but his mentality was everything.
It’s that Mamba Mentality
A phrase synonymous with Kobe, meaning unwavering commitment and dedication. Attacking your goals with relentless passion, the Mamba Mentality was beyond what most of us believe capable. He took what Michael Jordan did and took it to the next level. Showing us what greatness is on the court is one thing. However, Kobe Bryant taught us how to achieve it. In his Oscar-winning, animated short “Dear Basketball”, we learned that his mentality was fueled by love.
Although some criticized Kobe Bryant for his attitude towards teammates and their effort, hindsight shows us that was love. Tough love, yes. But love nonetheless. Kobe wanted everyone to dedicate themselves to the game like he did. Because he loved basketball with everything that he was. He left everything on the court, regardless of practice or game. And he couldn’t imagine that anyone else didn’t have that love.
But he also loved his teammates, his friends, his rivals. Living by example, Kobe showed players how to do it. Through his mentality, they learned to continue to strive, push, learn, grow and struggle to greatness. He pushed good players to be great and great players to be legends.
He did everything to the best of his ability. We know this because the stats, the accolades and the accomplishments show that. Kobe put himself in the discussion as the best basketball player of all time. Ultimately, his basketball life impacted the world. He was the 800-pound gorilla in the room.
Yet somehow, he will be remembered for so much more. His life as a father and husband defined his life more than 20 years in the NBA.
Kobe Bryant the father and husband
Like in basketball, Kobe Bryant led by example as a father. His love and tenderness warmed out heart. We all saw it with the way he acted with his family. He completely dedicated himself to them. The wisdom he imparted to us fathers was well beyond his years.
Recall that we were ready for Kobe Bryant the basketball player to show up as the father. We were ready for toughness, grit, and pain. Expecting him to be hard, demanding, and grinding on his kids, he surprised us. Instead, he encouraged curiosity and tried to pique his child’s interests. Again, just like in basketball, he went further than being great because he helped us be great. Kobe modeled hard work, dedication and an ever-growing understanding of children’s needs.
The Black Mamba was fierce, deadly, but also loving
During his legendary career, we only knew Kobe Bryant as the Black Mamba. Deadly. Fierce. He could break opponents’ wills at any moment and strike with venom. Every player feared the Mamba.
But, underneath the deadliest snake in the world’s skin was a giant heart of gold. Hidden beyond the leathery exterior, we know his heart and soul were filled with love and compassion.
Kobe Bryant’s massive impact on my life
There have been three athletes in my lifetime that impacted my life in major ways:
However, none was biggest than Kobe Bean Bryant.
MJ made me love basketball and believe I could fly and do superhuman things. Steph Curry helped me articulate my redefinition of manhood and how much character and personal boundaries impact success.
But Kobe, he made me change my allegiance. I grew up a Michael Jordan and Bulls fan. It was MJ all the way. No Lakers, all Bulls. Then, the team broke up and my basketball heart was broken. Later, in college, I watched the episode of Beyond the Glory about Kobe Bryant. Instantly, I related to his story and his life. Both Kobe and the Lakers stole my heart. And it hasn’t wavered since. I even wrote an open letter to Kobe when he retired.
My only regrets in life are when I didn’t live with the Mamba Mentality.
Giving everything you have until the task is done
Extreme dedication to the things you say, you love and want the most
Enjoying the hard and arduous process of building greatness
All the while, striving to be cultured, educated, and thoughtful about things outside your love to learn new ways to love your love
It’s hard. That level of dedication and love is unreal. And only a few have it within them to outwork everyone, every day. But now, with Kobe’s example before us, we can strive for that Mamba Mentality. Let’s get to work.
The greatest gifts I can give my kids are:
Love of God
Love and Dedication to them
My example as a husband/father
The Mamba Mentality.
He left us abruptly but left us with so much. I’ll miss you and your teachings, Kobe Bean Bryant.
It took Steph Curry’s domination of the NBA for me to fully realize the power and masculinity of stability.
As an athlete – at the high school, college and professional level – I bought the locker-room myth that chaos and struggle molded the most indestructible on-field warrior.
The narrative pervasive throughout black-jock culture goes something like this: “The toughest and most hungry players come from the struggle, the bottom. If you match up a kid from the suburbs and one from the ‘hood, the suburban kid can’t win because he’s not tough enough and doesn’t have the fight and desire as the other guy. You can’t be the toughest or the strongest without the struggle of a broken home and socioeconomic disadvantage. Street cred and the fear it provokes are important weapons. Good guys finish last in sports, too.”
As a man and professional athlete, you are always trying to be the alpha dog. Every man wants to be the biggest and baddest dude around. We want respect, credibility, clout, and money. In my life, the recipe for being alpha dog could be summed up in one quote: “Men do what they want. Boys do what they can.”
It’s a selfish mentality that can lead to sexual promiscuity and baby-mama drama, the abuse of alcohol and drugs, and irresponsible personal and financial decisions. The alpha-dog mentality certainly enhances your athletic-performance swagger. It makes you think you can accomplish all things through arrogance.
Derek Jeter is the exception, not the rule. His playing career seemed to be enhanced by remaining America’s top bachelor throughout his legendary baseball career. He managed to remain a bachelor and a gentleman.
But maybe the better path for athletes is choosing stability and a traditional home life? That’s what I believe I’m learning from Steph Curry. My favorite quote and life mantra – “Men do what they want” – is a path to hell? If not, it’s at least a path to not reaching your full potential personally or athletically.
I lived the dream of a professional athlete, but the mentality that got me there led me down a dangerous path.
How else do you explain a 6-foot-3 beanpole who couldn’t land a major scholarship being one of the best basketball players on the planet?
I believe Steph does what he wants on the court because off the court he’s remarkably grounded and stable.
Curry met his wife at a church function and married at just age 24. The absolute last thing I wanted to be at 24 was tied down to one woman and some sort of daily routine. I actually thought it would get in the way of achieving the respect I desired and that stability had no effect on my career. I now look at Curry’s life with his wife and his daughter’s famous press-conference appearances and wonder what the hell I was thinking.
Steph has defined himself as a man of faith, a loving husband, a devoted father, as well as an MVP basketball player and champion. Notice the order? Notice the priority? Curry focused on organizing his life properly, realizing this would help him organize his career properly. His life is consistent, his priorities are in order, and he realizes his purpose inside and outside of the NBA.
Deep down, I knew better.
I grew up in church and a two-parent home and the person I looked up to the most was a man of stability and integrity: My dad. I always admired the Tony Dungy’s and Kurt Warner’s of the world, but couldn’t reconcile the life I wanted with the life I created. When I was in the NFL, I chased alpha dog status and unwittingly created chaos. It was my drug. I juggled women and juggled all the drama that goes with that lifestyle. I had to be in the clubs with my boys. I thought those things would bring me happiness and I actually believed you reaffirmed your alpha dog status by being able to deal with drama. Stability was boring. I was a fool.
Steph Curry doesn’t fit the stereotypes of a superstar athlete, and that’s precisely what makes him so great.
Stability and consistency only help your life and make your life better. I have learned that in my own life. Even after I was done playing in the NFL, my life was unstable and chaotic. I didn’t even realize it. I had normalized chaos. I existed in a reality where lack of consistency was the routine.
I was failing in life personally. I was in and out of relationships and creating instability for my children. I was depressed. I reached a crossroads because of injuries and moving away from football. My mother always told me: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you always got.” This made me return to my faith, and focus on rebuilding myself into the man I wanted to be.
I began to remove the chaos from my life and stopped trying to be the alpha dog and prove to everyone I was the man. I had to prioritize what I wanted in life and anything that wasn’t helping me achieve my goals had to go. When I changed, everything around me changed. My second career started to blossom. I got married. I embraced routine. Knowing what’s going to happen on a day-to-day basis and having that anchor of character and faith have been paramount to transforming my life. I am in no way perfect and still make mistakes. However, I can say with certainty that when I veer away from character and faith guiding my life, bad things happen. And when things start going left personally, I can attest that it impacts every area of your life.
Choosing the path of high integrity and character is difficult. It’s a struggle that builds toughness. That’s what I see in Steph Curry. He is one of the toughest guys I have ever seen on and off the court. He’s a hero. He’s a superhero. He’s a role model for kids, and grown men, too. He faces every temptation from complacency, hubris, sex, and drugs on a daily basis but he still stays focused and keeps his priorities in order. If you regularly fall into the traps of life, are you strong and tough? Or is the guy who stares them in the face daily and does the right thing the alpha dog?
It appears Curry doesn’t believe the lie. I bought the lie. Every now and then I catch myself making a comment that shows I am still a work in progress. I’m still battling a mentality that haunted me from childhood. I was a private school kid for most of my life, and guys I played with thought I was soft because of how I spoke and because I was “too nice.” I made poor decisions trying to disprove the thinking of small-minded individuals. Let me be clear. I loved my teammates. They were good guys. They were simply caught in the same culture and mindset I was.
The thinking is a bunch of garbage. Character trumps everything. I’ve seen rich kids who are the hardest workers and the most competitive. I have also seen people with special talents who didn’t have two nickels to rub together be extremely lazy. Your character and intestinal fortitude determine your toughness, competitiveness, and level of achievement as well as your ability to maintain it.
I’m glad Steph Curry is redefining for me and others how a real alpha dog handles his business. He puts a different spin on men doing what they want. Steph is doing EXACTLY what he wants, and he is the man.
The more men we have in this world, the better our future will be.
As the 2019 NFL season comes to a close, I imagine that people across America are still licking their wounds from heated discussions regarding Nike’s decision to build an ad campaign around Colin Kaepernick.
In my head, I see fathers and sons bitterly divided over whether the controversial quarterback’s decision to protest injustice is worthy of finacial reward off the field, or similarly, financial deprivation on the field.
I too, had a fight with my son about Nikes, and appropriate methods of sacrifice… but it had absolutely nothing to do with Colin Kaepernick.
A few months ago, my kindergarten son and I had a fight. It wasn’t our first fight of the week. It wasn’t even our last fight of the day. These fights happen because one of us is absurdly bullheaded and strong-willed. I say it’s him, and nothing you’ll ever say or do can convince me otherwise.
So in that case, maybe it is me.
Back to the story- That day, As I readied to leave the house for the typical school drop-off routine, I learned that my son believed very strongly that his school was having a pajama themed-spirit day. I had no evidence to back his theory up. No email from his teacher. No note home. Nothing on the school website.
His mother was out of town on business, so I made the executive decision that, even if pajama day was really happening, he would not be participating.
I wasn’t going to chance having my kid be the only one at school wearing pajamas.
He didn’t like my decision, and made it very clear that he was willing to risk the embarrassment of a full day in a long-sleeved Paw Patrol flannels, regardless of whether or not it was actually pajama day. What he was absolutely not going to do, was miss his first ever school spirit day.
I packed an extra set of clothing in his backpack, in the event that the burden of a typical 105-degree day in the Arizona desert changed his mind, and away we went.
Something is Missing
When we arrived at his school, I noticed something was missing- his shoes.
In my frustration with his stubbornness, had I forgotten to put on shoes? No. I distinctly remember him making the task of strapping up his electric-blue Nikes as pointlessly arduous as five-year-olds love to make any and every run-of-the-mill task.
So if I put shoes on him, and now, we’re here at his school without his shoes, where in the hell could they be?
“I threw them out the window.”
His tiny voice took a moment to break through my exasperated parental haze.
You… did what?
“I threw my shoes out the window of the car.”
I was stumped. Of all the nonsense my little friend has pulled… why this? He’s difficult, but not impractical- stubborn in his actions, but far from obtuse.
I pursed my lips, but it took several moments for the breathy “wwwwwhy?” to fall out.
“Because you don’t wear shoes to bed.”
He wasn’t wrong. I mean, he was definitely wrong… but his assertion, if situationally abducted from our current reality, was correct. Wearing shoes to bed is not something one should do (I’d also like to contend that hurling footwear from a moving minivan is equally unacceptable).
We hopped back into the car and went searching for his Nikes. The irony was not lost on me that, at a time in our culture when the very same footwear company has prompted widespread protest (as well as praise) for their choice to name an ex-NFL quarterback, who has become more known for acts of evoking social consciousness and provoking debate than he is for his athletic exploits, my son chose to toss his sneakers out a moving car window in your his own fit of protest.
My son’s act of defiant nonsense almost perfectly personified the spirit of Nike’s new ad campaign.
“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Conviction makes the world go ’round
My son believes things very strongly. To him, your beliefs aren’t even beliefs, they’re simply knowledge. He didn’t just believe that it was pajama day, he knew. He didn’t believe that shoes aren’t part of a traditional pajama ensemble, he knew. That’s called conviction, and convicted people are what make the world go ’round.
Convicted people can also flip the world upside down, and that may or may not be a good thing. I suppose it depends on if the world being right-side up involves the “right side” being up.
I know my son is young, but the conviction he feels when making his decisions is already my most formidable opponent as a parent. He’s already willing to sacrifice the peace of our home to take the proverbial knee on any number of issues… issues that may feel trivial to me as his father, but issues that encompass his entire miniature kindergarten world.
Issues like turkey sandwiches being an acceptable breakfast food. Or whether standing directly in front of the television is the best way to consume content. Or pajama day.
Someday, his causes will be larger than food and dress. Someday his cause will be one that, when his stand is made, will make greater waves than making us late for school or planting the seeds for a blog idea in his father’s head.
When that time comes, as heroic as Nike’s “believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything” campaign might sound, some things might be worth hanging on to, even if they conflict with his beliefs.
This isn’t meant to be a comparison to Colin Kaepernick, or any of the connotations that come along with his mission to draw attention to racial injustice at the hands of authority figures. This is about my son throwing his shoes out the window.
Having those shoes on conflicted with his belief that he didn’t need them, so he tossed them away.
Someday the thing he doesn’t need in the moment might not be shoes. It might be might be something more consequential- like relationships. I need my son to know he can’t just throw out the people in his life in the times that he feels their presence conflicts with his current causes or needs.
Belief can certainly invite a need for certain sacrifices, but it doesn’t demand them. It’s my job to help him to never forget that he needs people, especially people that he doesn’t think he needs, to remind him that convictions are only worthwhile if shared with a community of people that can help see those convictions through.