GRANDPARENTS' DAY SPECIAL!
This is an article from the Sept. 10, 2007 issue
Forty-niner Vernon Davis, last year's No. 6 draft pick who got what was then the largest contract ($23 million, five years) ever for a tight end. He grew up the eldest of seven siblings in a tough area of Washington, D.C.
Adaline Davis, Vernon's grandmother, who raised the entire brood herself.
This Sunday—in case you needed another reason to buy a greeting card—is the 30th annual Grandparents Day.
Just two: 1. Don't accept anything that comes easy, and 2. Treat everyone with respect. That means everyone. At 15 Vernon, a star athlete at Dunbar High, told Adaline he was ditching his close friends, who were getting into drugs. She said to detach with love. "I told him they could turn their lives around, become lawyers or doctors and that he might need them one day," Adaline recalls. "So to let them know you love them and you'll be there for them but you have to do your own thing right now."
At Maryland, Vernon gave himself a reminder of the woman he calls "Ma" by tattooing Adaline on his arm. "When he showed it to me," says Adaline, "I kicked him out the door, turned the lock, shut the lights and didn't sleep a wink that night." After church the next day Adaline called to forgive him. And after last year's draft, he got another tattoo—of her image on his chest.
Davis, who describes Adaline as "my best friend," bought a five-bedroom house for her and his siblings in Silver Spring, Md. He has also pledged a yearly $10,000 donation to her church, Newborn Pentecostal, in D.C.
THE LAST WORD
Adaline's proud of Vernon, but she won't come see him play; she's too worried he'll get injured. She records his games, then watches after getting a postgame call from Vernon saying he's O.K. "I don't like his tattoos, I don't like his football and I don't like his dreads either," says Adaline. "But with all my heart and soul I love him dearly."
The Pop Culture Grid
|How do sports stars fit in?||I'm Superbad when I ...||In your pockets right now||Favorite comfort food||Least favorite exercise||Boxers or briefs||Person I'm dying to have dinner with|
|NICK PUNTO Twins 3B||Have a basketball in my hands||Wallet, cellphone, comb, $100||Ice cream||Abs||Boxer-briefs||Chevy Chase (left)|
|CHRIS COOPER Cardinals DE||Am on the field||Cellphone and wallet||Rib-eye steak||Long-distance running||Boxers||Mike Rowe (of Dirty Jobs)|
|JON KITNA Lions QB||Hook my driver off the tee||Car keys, cellphone||My wife Jennifer's bow-tie pasta||Running on a treadmill||Boxer-briefs||Tiger Woods|
|SHANE VICTORINO Phillies RF||Get around women||Cellphone, wallet, Trojans||Ice cream||Running||None. I go commando||Jessica Biel (above)|