Sunday, June 16, 2013
Relationship with father fuels Evans' work
By Jared Zwerling
The same determination Reggie Evans puts into trying to snatch another rebound, he demonstrates off the court with his children, trying to be the best father he can be.
Evans is the kind of father Evans never had. As he puts it, "There's not a week that goes by that I don't think about my dad."
Growing up in Pensacola, Fla., Evans hardly knew his father, Reginald, who was incarcerated for selling drugs. Instead, the power forward was raised by his mother, Janie, in an arrangement that is becoming all too common in the United States. According to the latest census data, more than half of all African-American children are being raised in fatherless homes.
These days, Evans is back in Pensacola, where he resides in the summer, dedicating most of his time to his wife, Joi, and three children, Amiya, 9, Alise, 6, and Reggie Jr., 1. He's very involved in his kids' lives and takes them nearly everywhere he goes. In fact, Evans was usually one of the few players in the postgame locker room with his children in his arms this season.
Evans has injected that same commitment into the Pensacola community. On May 18, his birthday, he held his eighth-annual barbecue in the same Pensacola Village housing area in which he grew up, where kids were treated to plenty of food, basketballs and T-shirts. Next month, on July 13, he'll be hosting his first-ever charity softball game at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium, benefiting his hometown and foundation, which strives to foster change and promote progress in underprivileged communities.
"My mom pretty much raised me," he told ESPNNewYork.com. "My daddy sold drugs and he was in and out of jail, and stuff like that. It was kind of rough. I'm just basically trying to give back to the least fortunate who don't really have nothing in life in terms of trying to succeed in life. ... As long as I'm keeping kids level-headed and just instilling hope and faith in them, I know they can make it."
Evans will be joined by teammates Andray Blatche and Marshon Brooks, as well as Marquis Daniels (Bucks), Rashard Lewis (Heat), Marreese Speights (Cavaliers), Trent Richardson (Cleveland Browns), Derrick Brooks (former Tampa Bay Buccaneer), Justin Gatlin (track star), Michelle Snow (WNBA player) and Johanna Long (NASCAR driver).
When Evans returns to Brooklyn next season, he'll be working with the Boys & Girls Clubs as he continues to develop his youth mission.
But that's not all. He's committed to another big chapter in his life: forging a relationship with his father.
"To be honest with you, we talk, we communicate and stuff. Things are getting better I can say. I'm feeling real real good about that," he said. "He wasn't really there for me full-time, so him not being there made me want to be there for my kids. Quality time means more than anything for them, so he helped me out a lot. I looked at it from a positive standpoint. Now, me and my daddy are cool."
While Evans has nothing planned with Reginald on Father's Day, the impact of his dad's role in his life will carry with him throughout the day.
"I"m just going to enjoy my kids," Evans said.
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