Shelden Williams is an all-star daddy
During the NBA offseason, Shelden Williams admits he sometimes carries a purse.
The Brooklyn Nets forward's schedule is also filled with trips to the Hello Kitty store and afternoon tea parties.
And before the family goes out, he makes sure he has barrettes and a brush for any hair emergencies.
Summertime is daddy time for the six-year NBA veteran, husband of WNBA superstar Candace Parker and father to their 3-year-old daughter, Lailaa Williams.
"Being a father just changes you. Before we had a daughter, I would never carry my wife's purse, but magically one day I was carrying Lailaa's purse," Williams said. "I don't know what happened. Now I'm the one playing dress up or tea party."
Williams also plays the part of cook for Lailaa and Parker when he's not on the basketball court.
"He's really into finding new recipes and cooking," Parker said. "A lot of times I will come home to a surprise as to what's for dinner."
Williams and Parker married in 2008 and had Lailaa on May 13, 2009. Parker was back on the court with the Los Angeles Sparks seven weeks after giving birth to "Tink," as they affectionately call their daughter.
Because her mother is the face of the WNBA, Lailaa garnered magazine covers before she was even born. In 2009, her mother became the first pregnant woman to appear on the cover of ESPN The Magazine.
"Lailaa loves to perform when we go to my game or Candace's game, and she starts dancing and everyone starts paying attention to her," Williams said. "She's a ham and she knows it."
Williams added: "When someone stops us and asks for a picture or autograph, Lailaa thinks it's for her, too. She needs for them to shake her hand and acknowledge her also."
Seeing the Parker-Williams clan together, however, can be rare during the NBA season. Mother and daughter are gone for about four months while Parker plays basketball overseas. A member of the Euroleague 2011 Russia Cup champion UMMC Ekaterinburg team, Parker prides herself in having never spent a night away from her daughter. While Parker and Lailaa are out of the country, daddy-daughter time exists only through technology.
"We talk every day about twice a day using Skype," Parker said. "Every time I open the computer she thinks daddy is on there."
"I don't know how people did this before technology," Williams said. "Lailaa and I like to play hide-and-seek on Skype, but she doesn't really understand the concept and will hide behind the couch with her legs hanging out or pop out when I ask her to."
Due to the distance and 12-hour time difference, Williams doesn't live life in the NBA fast lane. He isn't one to go clubbing, opting instead to check in with his girls. After most games, he knows he has only 90 minutes to get to a computer and talk to Lailaa before Parker goes to practice at the gym.
As in touch as the family stays, there are moments Williams has missed -- like when Lailaa took her first steps.
"I'm different than a lot of dads. I don't see how these guys cannot be around their kids," Williams said. "They take it for granted how accessible their kids are. I see my child maybe half the year and I don't take any moment for granted."
Williams said being a dad is fun. He enjoys just hanging out with his daughter.
"Candace gets a bit jealous at our inside jokes, but that's my princess," Williams said.
Williams may soon get his wish to spend more time with his baby girl. He said Parker is considering discontinuing overseas play once Lailaa starts school. More daddy-daughter time will give Williams a chance to work on a part of his game that is severely lacking -- fashion sense.
"As she gets older, it's all about looking good with the outfits and her hair," Williams said. "I try to match the leggings with her Nike shirt. But when in doubt, I fall back on a white T-shirt and jeans. Candace doesn't like that."
"When he does Lailaa's hair, I'm like, 'Why did you let my baby walk out the house looking like that?'" Parker said. "Sometimes he will just let it flow or dump the brush in hair lotion and pull it back with a headband on it."
His skills as Daddy The Stylist may need work, but in every other realm of daddy daycare he's an all-star.
"He is a great father, very hands-on, and she is in love with him," Parker said.