Devin Hester finds joy in parenting
If there was an instruction manual for dads, it would be thicker than the NCAA rules book.
Infant car seat installation? Page 36. How to coach Little League without teaching new words to the kids? Chapters 30-40. When it comes to raising the kids, dads can be many different things.
Devin Hester, wide receiver for the Chicago Bears and father to 18-month-old Devin, knows dads can be something else: absent.
As a kid, most of Hester's friends had just their mothers around.
"You see the outcome of how all of them, not one, but all of them, planned their life without a father figure," Hester said. "It really affects the kids as they are growing up."
This realization, along with being a daddy to Devin, motivated Hester to start thinking about what really matters off the football field. He saw what happened to his friends growing up without a father figure, but it wasn't until he had his own son that he realized just how important a father is to a child's development. This offseason, Hester decided to turn this passion into writing a parenting column for Chicago's award-winning parenting magazine, Chicago Parent.
Hester spends a lot of time visiting places around Chicago with Devin, and his parenting column really captures his happiness of being a father. Even though he has a dream job, Hester looks forward to coming home every day.
"Ya know, it's always the same regardless of how my day is going," Hester said, about the joy he finds in seeing little Devin. "It could be a bad day, or a great day, but his expression on his face seeing me walk through the door -- you have to have a son to experience that situation."
Balance is the key for Hester in spending time with Devin. There's "been a lot more time" this summer with the lockout, but Hester still has commitments to his rigorous offseason workouts.
"The biggest thing I do, the thing that really helps me, is I get up early and do it," Hester said. "The time I'm gone is when Devin is asleep. When I get home he's just getting up and eating breakfast, so it's like the day's just started for him."
The workout doesn't really end when he walks in the door. Chasing a toddler around takes a lot of energy. When playing in the living room together, little Devin is able to pick up the half-his-body-size football and throw it pretty far for an 18-month-old. But, the real question is, how's his catching ability?
"He's got a pretty good catch," Hester said. "It seems like he's more into basketball. He loves basketball."
But little Devin's mom, Hester's wife Zingha, has her own ideas about his sports future.
"My wife wants him to play baseball," Hester said, giving Cubs fans a glimmer of hope. "We'll see how that turns out."
For parents, there is one test to find out just how much of the "dirty" work a dad is willing to do.
"I'm cool with changing [diapers]," Hester said. "If I'm home with just me and him, I'll change him, but if it's me and my wife around, I hand him to her and she knocks it out."
While he has goals off the field as a dad, Hester hasn't stopped thinking about what his goals are on the field. When there's football again, Hester will be ready.
"My biggest goal in life is just to make big plays," Hester said. "I kind of see myself as a big playmaker. Whether it be special teams or offense, just be consistent on making big plays throughout the game."
Hester is a star on the field, but he wants his son to remember his legacy in a different way.
"Dad plays football, but more importantly, he is a better superstar to you off the field," Hester said.
To read Devin Hester's journeys of a daddy superstar, read his latest column here.
Anna McDonald is a Page 2 contributor and covers the Yankees for the It's About the Money part of the SweetSpot Network. You can follow her on twitter at @Anna__McDonald.