Of all the things Ravens linebacker Kamalei Correa has learned in the exactly half-year he has been a dad to daughter Reign, the most important is that there is no perfect playbook for fatherhood.
Believe him; he tried to read one. It came close. In Correa’s pursuit of good parenting, he devoured “The New Dad's Playbook: Gearing Up for the Biggest Game of Your Life,” former Ravens teammate and tight end Benjamin Watson’s 2017 “game plan to being the best partner and the best father.”
Correa, 24, called it “life-changing.” Many of the lessons Watson, 37, has learned and relearned — his fifth child was born in 2015 — prepared Correa for his daughter’s arrival and early months. But there’s only so much a book can tell you about, say, gastrointestinal distress; the rest, you have to figure out yourself.
Which often means going back to Mom. Or Google. Or his own gut.
“If there's something wrong, if she's got a cough or something, then I'll call her,” Correa said, referring to his mother, Lani. “I get in a panic mode, because I'm a dad. I'm like, 'Yo, what's going on?' I'm trying to get it fixed. But then I'll look online, too. But then I'll go off my own reactions, like, 'Aw, yeah, maybe she's got to burp because she just ate.' And then she'll throw up something.”
Reign Ku’uipomaikeapoalewa Correa was born Dec. 17, just hours before the start of the Ravens’ Week 15 win against the Cleveland Browns. After Wednesday’s mandatory minicamp, the second-last practice open to reporters before the start of a potentially make-or-break training camp begins next month, Correa called fatherhood “like a new breath of life.” Twice in the next few minutes, he stopped to compose himself while talking about Reign.
She’s always happy, he said. When he wakes up in the morning, that’s the first thing he sees: her smile. He hears Reign giggle, oblivious to the world around around her, and wishes he could feel what she’s feeling, that childlike glee.
“At that age, in their thought process, they don't know nothing about life,” he said. “And life is just amazing to them. And I try to take that approach with my day now.”
The 2016 second-round draft pick has spent much of his offseason with the Ravens at outside linebacker, where he played in college. He’s signed through 2019, but with the team’s depth at linebacker, it’s an uncertain future.
Already, though, Correa has learned to “go with the flow” of fatherhood. Perhaps it’s why his first Father’s Day will be like any other day of doting over Reign, he said. Correa has her, and that’s enough.
“She's going to be — man, I get emotional talking about this, man. I don't even know,” he said. “She's special. That's it.”