When former New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Norman Hand died of heart disease in 2010, his son Trey was almost seven years old. Raising Trey alone without his father was difficult. Hand, who played defensive tackle for the New Orleans Saints for three seasons from 2000 to 2002, helped the Saints win the first playoff game in franchise history. Saints News Network caught up with Trey and his mother, Toni, to talk about her campaign “Feed the Baby,” Trey’s plans for college, how he plans to honor his father, and his plans for the future.
Toni recalls the dreaded telephone call,
Son of a Saint awarded Trey a scholarship to attend De La Salle High School in New Orleans. It is an organization that works to enhance fatherless boys' lives by showing young men to formative experiences and lasting peer-to-peer relationships. Toni Charles felt the world's weight having to raise a son without a father, but she credits Son of a Saints for working with Trey through mentor and emotional support.
I don’t know How I would have made it without Son of a Saints, Toni explained. “Seriously, they have been HUGE for me to do the things I needed to do without feeling guilty about it. They helped to equalize a lot. Their willingness to give to Trey has created a new fond spirit within both of us to give back. Now that my tuition days are almost over lol ...I pray because I want to devote more time to helping other single women like myself gain financial independence with Paparazzi Accessories.”
Football seems to run in the family as Trey plays DE and DT for De La Salle. Because of injuries, Trey has not played since May 2019. He did not get discouraged going into his senior year by any of it. He’s an example of perseverance and a product of hard work, his mom says. He acknowledges that tough times do not last always, and that keeps him going.
Trey and his father share many characteristics, mannerisms, and resemblances. They have a few things in common: their smile, love for football, and a hefty appetite. Toni shared that Norman was nicknamed ‘The Heavy Lunch Bunch.’ Well, Trey, who is Norman's spitting image (6’ 300 lbs), ran up a $225 lunch bill weekly. His mother cleverly came up with a campaign dubbed “Feed the Baby.” Toni affectionately shared it was difficult to feed Trey’s enormous appetite, so she began the entrepreneurship journey to offset his weekly lunch bill. She began selling Paparazzi Accessories, and the benefits were much greater than lunch money. Son of a Saint continued to help, which inspired Toni and Trey to give back.
I don’t know how I would have made it without Son of a Saint Toni explained. “Seriously, they have been HUGE for me to do the things I needed to do without feeling guilty about it. They helped to equalize a lot. Their willingness to give to him as created a new fond spirit within both of us to give back. Now that my tuition days are almost over lol...I pray because I want to devote more time to helping other single women like myself gain financial independence with Paparazzi Accessories.”
“Trey got older I always wanted to show him it doesn’t matter you never quit... especially on yourself. I knew I only had a few hours left in my program, so I decided that I was going to return....even while working Full Time and Selling Jewelry. I had to finish not just for me but for him too. I wanted him to see that I worked every day and still went to college and finish! I wanted him to be proud to fill out his college applications and answer YES he had a parent that graduated college. He’s watched me grind HARD...the examples he’s seen in me are in him, and when it’s his time to grind, he will know exactly what to do.”
Hand’s goal is to play Division I football at LSU. Eventually, he said he would like to work in the NFL in some capacity. It doesn’t have to be playing football, Trey said, it can be in any capacity, including journalism. The younger hand affectionately spoke of his father during our interview and shared that he wore his dad’s jersey No. 99 in the eighth grade but switched to 92 the past three seasons. He has exited his father’s shadow and wears No. 5 this season to establish his own identity.
“I decided when I got older, I wanted to start my legacy,” Trey explained.
Due to Covid-19, high school football will return in early October for Trey. He will finally get to play under the Friday night lights for his senior year. Hand is excited at what the future holds, and while he prepares to retake the ACT to score higher, he wants to attend LSU and play football. His goal is to major in Journalism.
His mom Toni will be in the stands watching Trey’s De La Salle Cavalier football team kick off the beginning of his final high school year. Trey knows he’ll look up and see his mom, but his dad will also look down with that large Normand Hand smile.
I asked Trey if there were any parting words, and he said, above all things...I would like to see my father in the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame. I will continue working hard to honor him, and I will not stop until he gets there.
Toni continues to be an inspiration to Trey by showing him that nothing is impossible. Amidst all that was going on, Toni shared, “I returned to college and received my degree last year! AFTER A GAZILLION YEARS!”