James White, running back for the New England Patriots, returned to the field on Monday night for the first time since his father Tyrone died. White’s father died in a September car accident that also injured his mother.
White opened up about the loss of his father after the Patriots’ 26-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday, getting emotional when he talked about the bond he had with his father and how much he motivated him every week.
‘He made me who I am today’
“He's one of the biggest reasons why I play football – being a little kid, seeing my brother play, knowing that my dad played football. That kind of motivated me to go out there and play football. My dad, he was a coach for me growing up. Obviously, it was not always fun having your dad be your coach, but he pushed me and made me who I am today.
"I miss getting that text that he would usually send me on Saturday nights before games ... just the simple texts he would send to get me prepared for the games. I kind of look back at the last text I got on Saturday before the Seahawks game and kind of reminisce on that, but he meant everything for me. He pushed me. Wouldn't always tell me what I wanted to hear, but he just always wanted me to do the right thing and push myself and be the best I can be."
The condition of White’s mother Lisa is improving, and he’s thankful that football can take his mind off things.
“My mom’s continuing to improve and progress and get better … being out on the football field eased my mind a little bit,” he said via the Boston Herald. “I’m just trying to push through. That’s what my dad would want me to do. Just trying to take it one day at a time, find a way to look at all the positives in my life.”
Football has done more than distract him. Being back on the field and doing normal things with his teammates has helped him start to heal.
"It was extremely tough for me. My mind still really can't wrap itself around everything. I'm still trying to process everything," he said via ESPN. "What's gotten me through is my family, seeing my mom continue to recover, being around my wife and my son, and my teammates; them kind of uplifting me. It's a family-like atmosphere in the locker room. Being in the locker room kind of keeps my mind at ease."
White is one of the Patriots’ leaders, but his football family has been there to lift him up when he’s needed it most.
With seven receptions for 38 yards on Monday night, White moved into ninth place on the Patriots’ all-time receptions list. He also had three rushes for 21 yards.
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