Redskins receiver Aldrick Robinson, Hank’s closest friend on the team, has seen many of these moments since Washington drafted both of them in April 2011. In advance of his wife’s October due date — they’re expecting their first child, a son — he and Hank have discussed how to be a positive influence raising children.
“He always talk to his kids,” Robinson said. “He love his kids, and you can see it. When they around him, they don’t want to leave him. I look up to him as a father. I see how he handles his kids and everything. I plan to treat my kids the same way that he treats his kids.”
If Hank’s fatherless childhood motivates him, he does not admit it. Maybe he isn’t conscious of it.
It doesn’t, he said, because others filled the caretaker role when he was a boy. But Hank grew up without a dad who provided for him and the family. That’s an aspect of fatherhood at which he is determined to excel.
That would be more difficult if he weren’t making NFL money, although he did graduate from Miami with a degree in liberal arts.
“I don’t remember what L.J. asked him, but I remember Hank saying, ‘That’s why Daddy working so hard, L.J., so you can have stuff.’ That stuck with me because he was only in college. He worked hard to make sure he improved to get that chance, training and everything.”
Now, L.J. and Na Na can navigate an iPad like pros. Kie Kie and the kids last month moved to a new apartment 10 minutes away because their old two-bedroom had been broken into three times since the spring. And Hank agreed to put Naris in day care until 2 p.m. each weekday to help Kie Kie’s workload and stress.
“I’m happy that he made it the way he did, but I’m trying to get there, too,” she said. “I want a child care license for myself so maybe we could open a day care in the future.”
After practice that day in Richmond, when L.J. and Na Na finished chasing down their dad’s teammates, Hank spent a few minutes with them before he had to go shower and eat lunch.
His father didn’t have moments like that.
“I know I had a responsibility to my kids,” Hank said. “I mean, those are my kids. I’m sure there’s things I can do better. I know I’m not perfect. Na Na will say, “Daddy, you’re No. 1,’ so I know I’m doing something right.”
Next to them stood Lisa, as proud a mother as she could be.