Name: Johnny Gray | City: Inglewood CA | IG: @jaygray3
What does being a father mean to you?
Being a father to me is everything. It is up to us to love our seeds and lift them up each day. Before they are abused by time, it is up to us to mold them into citizens of society that will foster success. We are their superheros, we are their mentors, we are their providers, but we mostly giving them pieces of us everyday that we either got from our childhood or were missing from our childhood. The pandemic of Covid 19 has further proven to me that being a father is the best title one can have. I enjoy being a kid with them during this time. I enjoy teaching them in school and depositing memories daily. Being a father is the best career in the world and one that should be taken seriously. Especially a father of 4 (2 boys and 2 girls). They are my ‘WHY’.
Describe your experience with your father growing up and how that impacted you today.
My father was a 4 time Olympian and record holder in the 800m, 600m and 880yd races. Although my father wasn’t always there in the physical form, as I grew older I came to realize that he was providing for his family with his hard-work and dedication of his craft. He instilled in me work ethic from not only watching him, but he was my first coach in sports and supported me to the fullest. I put my father on a pedestal as a young boy and looked up to him in every way. He provided me life experiences that have filled my life meter and my passport. From him building a basketball court in his bedroom (which my mother hated) to him jogging to my elementary to drop off Taco Bell for lunch to my friends and I in Agoura, my father has given me experiences that I still cherish to this day. I am his namesake, Johnny Gray III and it is my duty to make my kids lives better than my life was, we upgrade each generation. Thank you dad!
What things did you take from your experience growing up into your own fatherhood journey?
Some positive things I have taken are: the support, providing life experiences, being the “cool” dad, challenging my kids to get out of their comfort zone, love, and discipline.
Some negatives: physical affection wasn’t given as much, so I do it everyday to my kids. Being too hard on them I didn’t enjoy as a kid, but as an adult respected, and I am super hard on my kids now. I show my wife affection in front of the kids since I didn’t see it growing up. I think it is important for my kids to see a positive husband/wife relationship.
Have you had any obstacles on your fatherhood journey? If so, explain.
I would like to say that I have not any obstacles in my journey. I say that because as a new father, I learned as I went and each kid thereafter, I continued to learned as the dynamic changed with each life we brought into this world. Each “obstacle” was just me being out of my comfort zone and a learning experience. If anything, my career as a firefighter is an obstacle for me since I sometimes miss holidays, school events, and birthdays. My first son provided an obstacle for me as I was overseas playing basketball when he was first born and made the life altering decision of quitting basketball in order to get a “real” career and be there for my family.
What advice would you give others new on their fatherhood journey?
I would say listen to the elders you trust and cherish their experiences and advice. Take what the good and bad from your childhood and apply it accordingly to your children. Love on your kids everyday. But the most important thing, there is no book on how to properly and appropriately raise a kid as each kid is different, learn on the job and communicate openly with your significant other as it relates to how you raise your kids. As my kids continue to grow, I’ve learned that I must be in the moment as cherish every little “kid” thing they do, regardless of how annoying or frustrating it may be. They won’t be a kid for long and I just sit back and enjoy the show as time passes.
If you wanted to write a quick letter to your father, starting with “Dear Father,” what would you say?
Thank you for being there for my brothers and me. Thank you for sacrificing to provide for your family. Thank you for disciplining me, supporting me and loving me unconditionally. As a man, I truly now understand what you were going through as a professional athlete going abroad every year, and I truly understand the heartaches, hardships and victories you went through as a husband, father, son, brother and friend. You did the best you could with what you knew and my childhood was ultimately better than your childhood and I still reflect on my childhood and smile. You did good (luckily you had a strong and loving wife by your side). The torch has been passed and I will make you proud as your namesake. Love you!
Your Oldest, JG3
Name some other fathers you cosign.