What legacy are you leaving for your children and the children of your community?
You have to play no games. I hope that I left something positive with them to make them want to be the best that they can be. To be upstanding and just being a good man. Being honest and upright is important. I hope they take what I have taught them and apply it when it comes to their kids. Because they too will be parents one day as well.
How would you describe your Fatherhood culture?
I think I came out to be pretty successful being raised by my grandparents and great grandparents. I just hope they pass the same values on to their kids. I let them know that I am “NOT your friend.” That’s my No. #1 thing. I also understand that parenting is NOT a popularity contest. I don’t care if nobody is talking to me in the house. It’s what I said and that’s the end of it. I mean they don’t pay for nothing, they don’t go to work hosting the radio show and they don’t go perform on the weekends. That’s what it is and I don’t explain my no.
From a father’s perspective, what two books would you recommend every child read?
Rickey Smiley “Stand By Your Truth,” No Opportunity Wasted by Bishop Joseph Walker and Jekalyn Carr “You Will Win.’ Those are three books I feel are important for kids to read.
As a father and a life coach, describe your playbook
My playbook is just training them not to drink, not to smoke, use discretion, and move quietly. To always work and do all the things you are supposed to do. That’s about the size of my playbook.
What insightful advice would you suggest about building a network?
The main thing is to be professional and learn how to mix in with other races and other cultures. There are white people out here signing checks too. We have to learn to think outside the box. And not just be comfortable being around black folks.
How important is keeping your word?
It’s very important because when you have nothing left. All you have is your word. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Be man enough to look people in the eye and say NO. You need to learn to look people straight in the eye and say no. You should see me look people in the eye and say No to people who ask for tickets. (laughs)
When it comes to protecting yourself at all times, physically and mentally, what would you tell your children?
Stay out of the line of fire. Stay at home. Find you a hobby that’s outside the box. Go to the lake and rent you a boat. Jump in the lake why not? That’s the problem. We don’t like to swim we don’t like to hike. We think sitting in the backyard eating baked beans while listening to Frankie Beverly is living. This is what I train my kids to think outside the box. Kids need to have exposure to different things. Exposure is everything for a child. It’s hard to get something when you ain’t seen nothing. I took a young man that works here on his first plane ride and when we came back he said he wouldn’t be happy just living in Jackson, MS after seeing what else is out there.
What advice would you give on being responsible for your own dreams?
I don’t none of my kids are trying to be like me. The only one of my kids that are putting forth their best efforts is my 17 year old son and daughter. Daughter lives in Columbia making straight A’s. My son is at a prep school for basketball, he’s an athlete. He 6’3. Great kid. HE is getting all A’s and B’s he works hard everyday and he is trying to be the best him he can be. Not only the education part they are also taking on things that I stand for and that’s what it is all about. My daughter is going to Emory University or Berkely and she wants to go to medical school.
Finish the sentence: Never give up on yourself because … you can do it. It’s not how you start it’s how you finish.
How does following your spiritual values help you in life?
You always want them to be spiritual so that when they fall up on hard times they have something to read and something to pick up and turn to . Once you expose them to God to teach them that God is real. That God owns everything so they don’t grow up thinking people own everything and praising people and kissing peoples butt. They need to know they serve a real and Living God. Teach them to trust God and even if you don’t take them to church you teach them how to get in a corner and have a good conversation with God.
Share one of your fondest memories you’ve experienced with your father, grandfather or father figure.
My favorite experience is my grandfather. My grandfather had a long drawn out conversations with me every night from kindergarten to high school. Still til this day my granddaddy is 92 years old. I had 2 wonderful Uncles growing up who stepped up to the plate when my dad died. My Uncle Anthony Bruce Smiley and my Uncle Herbert Armor. These are uncles who spent quality time and they were father figures. There was my granddad’s brother Uncle Thomas who picked me up every summer and took me to Cleveland. He drove all the way to Birmingham every summer to pick me up and that made the difference. I just really appreciate them being in my life.
Why is writing down your fatherhood goals for life so important?
I didn’t write down fatherhood goals. I just naturally tried to steer him in the right direction. Once I found out my son was my son I just gave him my absolute best. (And all of that is in the book) I fought for him got custody of him. I raised him all the way to adulthood. Now that doesn’t mean everything I did was received. I am just saying what I did.