With no blueprint, Redskin Hankerson seeks success as dad

Receiver learns on his own after fatherless childhood

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Na Na held her daddy’s burgundy and gold football helmet with both hands while he spoke to a reporter coming off the practice field at training camp in Richmond last month. About 10 yards away, L.J. spotted his father’s teammate, receiver Pierre Garcon, and raced over to request an autograph. Na Na toted the helmet as she ran after him.

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 children,” Robinson said. “He love his children, 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 children and everything. I plan to treat my children the same way that he treats his children.”

If Hank’s fatherless childhood motivates him, he does not acknowledge 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 father 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.

Kie Kie admired how Hank pushed himself toward the financial security that the NFL would provide. She recalled a conversation Hank had with his son while he was at Miami.

“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 children last month moved to a new apartment 10 minutes away because their old two-bedroom had been broken into three times since the spring. Hank agreed to put Naris in day care until 2 p.m. each weekday to help ease Kie Kie’s workload and stress.

Hank extends that outreach beyond his children. “I don’t want for nothing,” Lisa said. Leonarda knows she can ask her younger brother for help, but she would rather follow his example.

“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 children,” Hank said. “I mean, those are my children. 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.”

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