(ThyBlackMan.com) Tennessee Titans cornerback Caleb Farley experienced one of the biggest adversities of his life last month when his father, Robert Matthews Farley, was accidentally killed in an explosion that was linked to a gas leak. In a TV news interview at the scene of the incident, Caleb Farley emotionally reflected on his father, and said, “My father was a stand-up guy. He raised me to be a stand-up guy.” The love that emanated from the young Farley, an African/Black man, regarding his African/Black father saying those words was evident as parents are an important part of every human being. Last month, both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame had their induction ceremonies for the newest inductees into their historic locations and two African/Black men had powerful words for their fathers.
Former NFL linebacker DeMarcus Ware lived up to being a first-round pick in the 2005 NFL Draft by having a great career in which he had 138 and a half career quarterback sacks, earned nine Pro Bowl selections and four All-Pro selections, and won a Super Bowl as a member of the Denver Broncos. As he reflected on his life’s journey to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Ware acknowledged his absent father during his speech and gave some thoughtful words to him and the audience with his father in attendance. Ware remarked, “This might sound crazy, but the NFL taught me how to forgive. First. I forgave myself. And then I forgave my dad. Dad… all the times I didn’t understand why you weren’t there. It doesn’t matter. You’re here now. I’ve learned that guilt rots in the person and forgiveness heals. How can I expect God to forgive me? If I don’t forgive you? You once said two simple words to me. I’m sorry. I’m not sure if I responded but I’m telling you now, on the biggest platform of my life, I forgive you.”
There are a lot of macro-level factors at work as to why some African/Black fathers are absent in raising their kids. At times, the children of those absent fathers have tremendous success in their respective careers like DeMarcus Ware thanks to the incredible work of single African/Black mothers and their “village” of family and loved ones that are instrumental in the raising of children. It says something about DeMarcus Ware to use his biggest professional moment of being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame to have his absent father there and to publicly forgive him in front of a nationwide audience.
Former Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade became a true superstar during his NBA career. He is the most accomplished player in Miami Heat history and was a first-ballot lock for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame even before he retired from playing in the NBA. During his Hall of Fame speech, Wade gave tribute to all the important people in his life from his teammates and coaches, to kids, to his wife, to his mother. It was Wade’s words about his father that really stood out as he asked his father to stand up at the end of his speech. “Even though I hated being called little Dwyane, I admired you as a kid,” Wade said. “I admire you now.
We have the same exact dream and we carry the same exact name, Dwyane Tyrone Wade. To know we hustled all the way to the Basketball Hall of Fame is God’s will. So Pops, I know your knee is a little sore. But will you join me on stage as we take our rightful step into basketball heaven?” After inviting his father on-stage, the younger Wade told his father that he loved him, hugged him and exclaimed, “We in the Hall of Fame, dawg!”. It was a beautiful moment and a reminder of how powerful a bond an African/Black son can have with his African/Black father.
Staff Writer; Mark Hines