Advertisement

Fathers, children and instilling a love of sports

From left, Michael Jones, son Jordon (Aberdeen), Stephanie (Maryland, Aberdeen), wife Sanciarhea, daughter Brionna (Maryland, Aberdeen), son Jarred (Loyola Maryland, John Carroll) and their grandparents.
From left, Michael Jones, son Jordon (Aberdeen), Stephanie (Maryland, Aberdeen), wife Sanciarhea, daughter Brionna (Maryland, Aberdeen), son Jarred (Loyola Maryland, John Carroll) and their grandparents. (courtesy of Maryland Athletics / HANDOUT)

Michael Jones told his eldest daughter, "You're going to make it — it'll be OK," but it was piping hot outside, and Brionna was sweating, and each of her 10 laps around the high school track was harder than the last.

Brionna figures she was about 14 then, old enough to be at the doorstep of a sterling basketball career at Aberdeen and Maryland, young enough to not fully appreciate that her father wasn't being mean, just pragmatic. Because if she couldn't run 2 1/2 miles, she wasn't in shape. And if she wasn't in shape, she wouldn't make varsity.

Advertisement

"It was a long day, but I got through it, like he said," said Brionna, a rising senior center for the Terps. "And it paid off."

With Father's Day on Sunday, The Baltimore Sun surveyed local athletes, from Orioles and Ravens to Terps and Greyhounds, for cherished memories of their dads. The remembrances are as unique as the relationships they spring from, but in each there are virtues of fatherhood: love, patience, pride. And because these are athletes, after all, there are sports.

Brionna remembers fondly the time spent working on her game with her father, a former college basketball player himself. She has three siblings, who all play: Her brother Jordon is a rising junior forward for Aberdeen; her sister Stephanie is a rising freshman forward for the Terps; and her brother Jarred is a rising redshirt senior forward at Loyola Maryland.

Jarred thinks back to all the hours spent in the car with his father after his games were over.

That was the catch with having your ride be your coach: There was always a postgame talk. After a poor showing, Jarred sometimes would try to avoid the inevitable. Headphones bought him some time; he couldn't listen to his driver, his thinking went, if he was listening to music.

"But eventually, he'd tell me to take them out," he said, "and we'd have a talk."

From Jarred's start in youth basketball to his days in Amateur Athletic Union basketball through his career at John Carroll, Michael remained an accomplished in-car multitasker. As he pointed his Chevrolet Tahoe home, he would tell Jarred what had happened on a ball-screen action, and why that was bad. Or he'd say that Jarred wasn't being unselfish, and why that was good.

Some of his points, Jarred already knew. But it was good to hear them anyway. This was Michael's form of help. And if Jarred didn't want any?

"I'd just tell my Ma I'd go with her," he said. "I'd be like, 'I'll take a ride with you today.'"

Jonas Shaffer

A 'Giant' experience

Almost from the day he was born, Ravens tight end Maxx Williams was around football, through his father, Brian. Maxx still remembers being in the New York Giants locker room with greats such as Michael Strahan, and he still connects with them today.

Brian Williams played center for the Giants from 1989 to 1999, starting 62 career games. Maxx was born in 1994 and was a fixture in the locker room until his father retired.

The Ravens drafted Maxx in the second round in 2015, helping Maxx follow his father.

Advertisement

"It's nice having him because he understands what we're going through, because he went through it," Maxx said. "So really, if I have a bad day, he really understands what I'm going through. He's always there in my corner, no matter what."

— Jake Lourim

Always around the game

Orioles infielder Ryan Flaherty grew up around the game with his father, Ed, coaching college ball at Southern Maine.

Every day after school, Ryan's grandfather would pick him up and deposit him at the fields with his father's teams, and on snow days, he'd tag along and spend the entire day there. It began as just an opportunity to learn and be around the game, but he realized what a true asset it was in his own life and career as others had to make serious outlays for the kind of instruction he got by osmosis.

"I think it definitely helped me, especially in New England where it's tough to play anyway, to have that advantage and just be around it," Ryan said. "I guess when you get to high school and you see some other kids paying a lot of money to go try and get a lesson, I think at that point you realize you had an advantage to be able to have that opportunity."

— Jon Meoli

Hey, Mr. Carter

Former Maryland basketball player Robert Carter Jr.'s first memory as a child was dribbling a basketball around the family's house in Thomasville, Ga. When he was old enough, his father, Robert Carter Sr., took his youngest child outside and taught him how to shoot at a hoop he put on the curb.

Unlike many fathers and sons, the Carters rarely played one-on-one, though Robert Carter Sr. was a high school football and basketball star before a knee injury wrecked his chances at a college career at Miami.

By the younger Carter's count, they played "only about five times." The elder Carter would silence his trash-talking son by hitting shots. Eventually, Robert Sr. was satisfied watching his son grow into a high school star at Thomasville High before going off to Georgia Tech and then Maryland.

"He went to all my high school games and my AAU games, he actually did the stats for everybody," Robert Jr. said. "I remember him talking to me after each game and telling me what I could have done better and telling me his experiences. That's what I remember the most. Just pushing me, never letting me relax and always making sure I was getting better."

— Don Markus

'My whole life has been sports'

David Shaw grew up in a football family. The Maryland defensive tackle's father, Jim Shaw Sr., was an offensive lineman for Colgate. His two older brothers, Jim Jr. and John, played at Penn State in the mid-2000s. So he spent a good portion of his youth attending his brothers' games at Spring Grove (Pa.) High School and rolling down a large hill adjacent to the field.

At one point during his childhood, Jim Sr. took David and the family to Hamilton, N.Y., to see where he had played years before. David met his dad's coach, saw the campus and where he had practiced before.

"That was exciting for me as a young kid," David said.

In the past, the Shaw family's Father's Day activities featured a fishing outing on their property. They would get free worms — Jim Sr. runs Uncle Jim's Worm Farm — and David, his parents, two brothers and five sisters would pass the afternoon with a picnic on their property.

"My dad was the first one to start playing sports," Shaw said. "My dad kind of started everything. ... I can't even tell you where I'd be at [without football] because my whole life has been sports."

— Daniel Gallen

Advertisement

'The right way'

Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley remembers his father starting him on the path to the NFL. He learned to play football at age 5 from his father, Clinton, a disciplinarian who stayed on C.J. and his younger brother, Jamey.

"I don't want to say aggressive, but he definitely made sure we stayed on our Ps and Qs," C.J. said. "He didn't play about the grades. If the grades weren't right, we were on lockdown. He disciplined us the right way. I definitely appreciate that now."

Clinton started Jamey on football around the same age, and now Jamey is a redshirt freshman linebacker for Alabama, where C.J. played.

— Jake Lourim

He's always there

When 6-year-old Jermaine Carter Jr. attended his first football practice in Upper Marlboro, the future Maryland middle linebacker had no idea how to put his pads on. But his father, Jermaine Carter Sr., was there to help the younger Carter get suited up and begin his career. The moment is preserved in a photograph that Jermaine Jr. said sits in his home.

From there, Jermaine Sr. has been an ever-present figure in his son's football career, from his days with the Upper Marlboro Mustangs to scoring three touchdowns in the DCIAA title game at Friendship Collegiate Academy to his time in College Park.

"It definitely is a great feeling to know that he's there when I have a great game and even when I have a bad game," Jermaine Jr. said. "He's there to tell me what I need to work on and give me constructive criticism. That's probably one of the best things about our relationship. He always tells me what I need to work on and be better, and he just helps me get better."

The elder Carter taught his son the mantra, "Carters don't quit; Carters got pride," from a young age, and it stuck. Jermaine Jr. touched on it during Maryland's trying 3-9 season last fall when he started all 12 games at middle linebacker and led the team with 103 tackles en route to earning an All-Big Ten honorable mention.

— Daniel Gallen

Fishing first, then football

Ronnie Stanley, the Ravens' first-round draft pick out of Notre Dame, remembers not as much football as fishing with his father growing up. Ronnie, who is from Las Vegas, would go up north to Ely, Nev., with his father to fish and spend time outdoors.

His father, Ron, would push him in football as well, though. Ron would play quarterback for one-on-one battles at the park between Ronnie and his younger brother, Robert, a redshirt junior linebacker at Fresno State.

"I was always busy with sports on my own, but he was always a big part of that … making sure I was active," Ronnie said.

— Jake Lourim

A constant presence

Gerard Evans did not get off to a great start when his son decided to play lacrosse. Knowing nothing about the sport, the father mistakenly bought a girls' lacrosse stick for Michael Evans to use at his first practice with the Davidsonville Athletic Association youth program.

However, the elder Evans has provided unrelenting support ever since as his son excelled at South River High, Johns Hopkins University and with the Chesapeake Bayhawks of Major League Lacrosse. Michael cannot remember his father missing a game at any level and will never forget celebrating with his No. 1 fan after Hopkins captured the 2007 NCAA Division I national championship at M&T Bank Stadium.

"Being able to share that victory with my father, especially in Baltimore, was really special. I had my whole family there — mom, dad, my four sisters, uncles and aunts. My dad even brought a bunch of his friends," Michael recalled.

Michael, the Schmeisser Award winner as the nation's top close defenseman as a senior, started and covered Duke attackman Matt Danowski. The Blue Devils had the ball with about a minute remaining and it came down to a one-on-one matchup between Evans and Danowski, the Tewaaraton Award winner that year.

"My parents were sitting in a club-level suite and my dad couldn't watch the end of the game because he was too nervous. He went out to the lounge and sat on a couch. When the final whistle blew, my mom ran out there to tell my dad that we won and he started crying. After we did the handshake line, I saw my whole family down by the railing and I climbed up into the stands and gave my dad a huge hug. It was just an incredible moment for both of us."

—Bill Wagner

First call after starts

Orioles pitcher Tyler Wilson calls his father, Philip, "a huge motivating force for what I do in the game." Philip played minor league ball in the San Diego Padres organization, and has been Tyler's pitching coach as long as he can remember.

Tyler's father is still the first person he calls after every start, with baseball providing a "great way for us to connect on a deeper level through the game over the last 25 years." They avoided the pratfalls of a father having too-high expectations for son, too. Philip just wanted the same thing for his son as a ballplayer as any father expects of his child: respectfulness.

"There's definitely hard times, when I didn't do things the right way or I didn't play the game the right way," Tyler said. "That's always been something that's paramount to my dad, playing the game hard and playing it the right way. Anytime I didn't control the things that I could control and play the game hard were the only times I ever had to face the music. He never got on me for playing poorly or anything like that. He always just wanted me to do my best, and so when you're a young kid, it's hard to see that in the moment. But looking back on it, I'm extremely grateful for the way he did that and the things that he hammered home at a young age."

— Jon Meoli

Playing for his father

Jake Zimmerman had offers to play lacrosse at Hofstra, Mercyhurst and Gettysburg, but the only school that attracted him was UMBC, where his father Don was the head coach.

"At the end of the day, it was a blessing," said Jake, 26, who appeared in 37 games primarily as a short-stick defensive midfielder before graduating in 2013. "Not many guys can say they get to see their dad every day. My dad's my best friend, and that's how I approached it. I really enjoyed getting to see him at home and on the field and in the locker room."

Don, who retired as Retrievers coach on May 2, said two of his favorite memories were getting a congratulatory hug from his son after collecting his 200th career win at Binghamton on April 10, 2010, and watching Jake perform a post-game dance after a season-opening victory at Presbyterian in 2011.

"Jake and I had a wonderful relationship and always have," Don said. "I love being around him, and I think he feels the same way. At a time when a lot of parents send their children off to school and don't see a lot of them, I was in a situation where I was able to spend time with my son just about on a daily basis. So I was thrilled, and it was just great to have an opportunity for him to be a part of the program for those special years."

Advertisement

— Edward Lee

The Final Four won dad over

Maryland men's basketball assistant coach Cliff Warren's father, John, worked more than 30 years in marketing for Exxon and played just one sport — golf. He even got the golf coach at Mount St. Mary's to give his son lessons when Cliff worked there as a graduate assistant under the legendary Jim Phelan.

While Cliff's father was pleased that his son was pursuing a master's degree, he wasn't thrilled when Cliff told his parents that he planned to go into a career in coaching. That changed when Cliff was an assistant at Georgia Tech when the Yellow Jackets went to the Final Four in 2004.

"I flew my dad out for the Final Four and we beat Oklahoma State [in the semifinals] and we won on his birthday," Cliff said. "We were in San Antonio and we could walk from the hotel to the arena and he said, 'Hey, I can die and go to heaven now.' He was so happy. It was one of the first times I can remember him saying, 'I'm proud of you and you've done well.'"

— Don Markus

More meaning

Father's Day is doubly meaningful for Ravens kicker Justin Tucker this year. On May 10, Tucker's wife, Amanda, gave birth to the couple's first child, Easton.

"It's the coolest feeling in the world," Justin said. "I've had the opportunity to play in a Super Bowl, hit some big kicks and win a lot of games with my teammates. But nothing will ever compare to seeing him take his first breath and being in that moment."

Justin also recalls playing football with his own father, Paul, who always made time despite being busy with his job as a doctor. Paul held for Justin, and after each batch of kicks, the two would retrieve the footballs and start again.

"Just his presence, that's something that I'll always remember, always carry with me," Justin said.

— Jake Lourim

'I've always looked up to my dad'

Jamir Tillman never got to see his father play in the National Football League. Cedric Tillman spent seven seasons as a wide receiver with the Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars. Jamir Tillman was only 3 when his father stopped playing pro football in 1997.

Last weekend, the Naval Academy's star wide receiver was on hand as Cedric was inducted into the Gulfport Sports Hall of Fame. Cedric is a native of Natchez, Mississippi, and starred collegiately at nearby Alcorn State.

"My dad doesn't really talk much about his achievements so it was really neat for me to see him get honored like that and learn more about his career," Jamir said. "It was awesome because my whole family was there. I'd say we had at least 30 relatives at the banquet. We had an all-day cookout beforehand and I got to hear about all the great things my dad did, like being part of state championship teams in football and basketball and winning individual state championships in track. I was just so proud to be there. I've always looked up to my dad and to see him recognize as a Hall of Famer was very cool."

—Bill Wagner

Advertisement
Advertisement