One Great Grandmother

The inspiration for 49er Vernon Davis
September 09, 2007

GRANDPARENTS' DAY SPECIAL!

WHO'S HE?
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.

WHO'S SHE?
Adaline Davis, Vernon's grandmother, who raised the entire brood herself.

WHY NOW?
This Sunday—in case you needed another reason to buy a greeting card—is the 30th annual Grandparents Day.

ADALINE'S RULES
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."

WRONG MOVE
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.

GIVING BACK
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)
PHOTOCOURTESY OF SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (DAVIS FAMILY) PHOTOPETER READ MILLER (DAVIS ACTION) PHOTOJIM SPELLMAN/WIREIMAGE.COM (BIEL) PHOTOLOUIS LOPEZ/CAL SPORT MEDIA (PUNTO) PHOTOGETTY IMAGES (COOPER) PHOTODAVID ZALUBOWSKI/AP (VICTORINO) PHOTOLEON HALIP/WIREIMAGE.COM (KITNA) PHOTOCOLUMBIA PICTURES/PHOTOFEST (SUPERBAD) PHOTOWARNER BROS./PHOTOFEST (CHASE) TWO PHOTOS

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)