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Thanksgiving Week

Thanksgiving is easily my second favorite holiday. You get to eat unhealthy with no conscience and spend time with your loved ones. I remember my mother getting us together to head down to my Aunt Shirley's house in little old Westmorland County, Virginia. It was always a great time. Now everyone has grown up and we started having it at my place, which is pretty cool (not this year because I'm in California). I have my own little family now, which makes the holidays even more special. I value the family bond even more now.

The best part about any major holiday for me is that it helps you put things in perspective. You get to sit back and think about what is really important. No matter what is going on in your personal life, job, or your finances, you realize how blessed you really are. You are ALIVE! This is the start of the season for giving.

I remember times when it was just my Mom, and we had Thanksgiving with my immediate family. We were really thankful because if it weren't for other folks’ generosity, our holiday wouldn't have been the same. That's one of the biggest reasons why our family aims to help others during this season because we know what it's like to need a little support.

So for those of you who give your time and money during this season, THANK YOU. It means the world to the people you are helping. It doesn't have to be a billion dollars or items, but any little thing you do adds up. Just remember you have the opportunity to make someone's holiday better. More importantly, remember that you are blessed regardless of how you may feel at the moment. Don't believe me? You are alive and reading this blog from your smart phone or computer. That's something right?

My family has a tradition of going around and saying what you are thankful for on Thanksgiving. Not that you weren't thankful yesterday, but it's a good way to remind yourself. I'm thankful for my God, family, friends, support system, all of my teammates and new relationships with the 49ers. By the way, things might not be going the way we want them to or I want them to, but I wouldn't change my team for the world. No regrets. Thankful and blessed.

What are you thankful for? 

Tomorrow Is Never Promised

I always understood that death is an inevitable part of life. At some point we all die, and before then many of us will have to bury someone we love. Three years ago today I received a call that would forever change my family and I still remember these words “Lil Chris is gone”. Chris was my little brother. He was approaching his 21st birthday and we had plans to celebrate that following week. Chris was a great kid with big plans ahead of him. He had planned to start school in the spring, had a decent job working for a security company, and had just gotten his first apartment. I was proud of him and where he was going. When I received that call and learned that he had gotten into a motorcycle accident and didn’t survive, I completely lost it. So many thoughts went through my head when the reality set in that I would never see my brother alive again.

It was the night before our big game against the Patriots. Instead of resting up for the game I was now heading home to be with my family. The Ravens staff was very supportive and made sure that I was able to get back home, not once mentioning the game we had the next day. That night I didn’t sleep much, 2 hours might be stretching it. We spent the next morning trying to keep things as normal as possible, playing Madden and watching SportsCenter. Playing in the game the next day wasn’t a thought in my mind. It didn’t even become a real conversation until we were watching TV and saw an ESPN report that I wasn’t with the team because my brother had passed away. My mom asked me what I was going to do and to be honest I was unsure. I didn’t know if it was inappropriate to not be with your family during a time like this. I didn’t want to hurt my team by trying to play and not being physically or mentally ready. After much thought and support from my family, I decided to play. That game was very emotional for me. The love I received from my team and fans was overwhelming. I’ll never forget it.

Fast forward to today. My siblings and my mom are still having a difficult time dealing with Chris’ death and still struggle to comprehend that he is not here. I’m going to be honest, I’m not the most emotional guy in the world and I am pretty awkward when it comes to dealing with any form of hurt or sadness. I realize now that everyone mourns differently and there is no “right” way. As time has gone on I also realized that there was no point in trying to wonder WHY everything happened. I would be searching for an answer I have no chance of ever figuring out. I couldn’t feel sorry for myself or my family because things like this happen all the time. Tomorrow, for example, a good friend of mine will be going through the same process with her daughter. She has not lost one, but two children this year. Tragedies like this make you stop and wonder WHY? Again, we don’t have the answers, so what can we do?

I learned that one thing I can do is try to live my life right through Christ and try to be the best man that I can be. If I do what I’m supposed to do I feel I will see my brother again. Am I going to be perfect? NO, but I can try and maximize everyday understanding that tomorrow isn’t promised. Rather than focus on the memories that aren’t going to happen I try to remember the time that we had together. Rather than celebrating his death date I choose to celebrate the day he was born. Things happen in life that change you forever.

On this day I lost my brother, but I learned to appreciate everyday more and actually tell people how I feel about them. Before he had passed away I had just started telling my family that I loved them. It was already understood but I realized it’s different when you actually hear it. I had the opportunity to tell him that before he has passed away and I feel really good knowing that he knew that I loved him. So on this day I challenge you to tell someone that you care about that you love them. Tomorrow isn’t promised. #RIPChris #RIPSIENNA

Father's Day Number Two

Time is flying! This is my second Father's Day. I guess it's cheating because TJ is only 14 months but I'll take it (lol). I'm not a big holiday person or one that loves recognition but Father's Day is pretty special to me. Even though I may downplay the festivities behind it (Chanel loves giving gifts), I love what it stands for.

Any man can have a baby with another woman, but not every man is willing to take care of his child. I used the word willing because it's a choice that you control! I have no respect for any man/woman that doesn't want to be in their child's life. I understand that every situation is unique but a crazy baby momma isn't a good excuse.

After being a Dad for more than a year now I realized I've been cheating other loving fathers on this day. I was raised by my Mother and Grandma and used to say they were each my Mom and Dad. I couldn't be more wrong. My mother was my mother. My grandmother was my grandmother. I realized that there is no parameter to your role as a parent. If you are raising a child by yourself, it's your job to raise that child to the best of your ability. There is no limit to what that love and nurturing consists of. Mothers can be Super Moms if they do it by themselves but that doesn't take away from great fathers on Father's Day. We honor our women on Mother's Day. Fathers everywhere are in their children's lives doing the right things and it's amazing to see, but there are a lot of us that aren't doing the right things either. It isn't too late to change that. Remember, you are the one missing out on your own blessing if you aren't in your child's life.

To the real Men that step up and provide for their children, I salute you. You are appreciated. To the men who aren't, get it together! We need you and more importantly your child needs you.

Happy Father's Day. 

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