Haason Reddick’s journey to Arizona Cardinals is a family affair
TEMPE, Ariz. — The NFL Draft is a time for celebration and excitement.
It’s also a time for nerves. Incredible, knee-buckling nerves.
Thursday night in Philadelphia, Haason Reddick was joined by, among others, his mother, Raelakia, and father, Raymond Matthew. Everyone knew he was going to be picked, yet that did not make the night any easier for those who raised him.
“I was so nervous; my legs were shaking so bad, I was like, ‘Oh my god, my knee is going to flip the table over,'” Raelakia said Friday afternoon, after her son was formally introduced as the newest Arizona Cardinal. “And he’s like, the whole time, he’s calm, he’s cool, he’s collected. He’s like, ‘Mom, relax, it’s going to be OK.’
“And I’m like, ‘OK.’ When he got the phone call, I exploded immediately.”
In other words, she was a mother, though this experience is something few can really prepare for. It’s taken time to sink in.
“I’m like somebody pinch me,” she said. “But as we got closer (to Arizona), and the pilot’s like, ’30 minutes to land,’ and I’m sitting there and I’m like, ‘Wow, we are headed to Arizona because just hours ago my son got drafted to the Arizona Cardinals.’
“Like, are you kidding me? Once we touched down it definitely sank in it was real.”
Reddick’s story, however, has hints of being a fairy tale.
The 22-year-old has gone from being a walk-on defensive back who was on the verge of leaving the Temple program to now, where he was the 13th overall pick in the draft as a linebacker.
The adversity he faced in his career is part of the reason the Cardinals have such affinity for him, and it’s a big reason why they are confident he will be a quality addition to their team.
“The thing that separates the good from the great ones, and I say this many times, is the heart and the mind; it’s the passion, it’s the ability to process information, and it’s the want-to,” Cardinals GM Steve Keim said. “In our evaluation process of Haason Reddick, that was never ever a question.
“A young man who’s dealt with a lot of adversity and has answered the bell every step of the way.”
Keim attributed Reddick’s having great character and intangibles to his parents.
“Obviously the job that you have done raising your son has put him in this position today,” the GM told them Friday. “So, thank you.”
Keim was not the only one to credit Reddick’s folks.
Asked what his parents have meant to him, the player took a deep breath before saying, “Everything.”
“I truly don’t think I would be here without them,” he said. “The guidance, the support, the way they’ve kept me out of trouble, the way they gave me an outlet so I wouldn’t get into the wrong things back from where I’m at.
“A lot of that is them, and their hard work and the things that they’ve done, I reflect that — I reflect the time that they’ve put in, the things that they’ve done for me, and I’m truly grateful and blessed to have them as my parents.”
There were times during his tumultuous college career where Reddick said he would call home feeling like things were not going to work for him, only to have the voice on the other end of the line tell him to keep pushing and not let anybody discourage him.
Recalling how he would respond that they did not understand what he was going through, he chuckled.
It’s easy to laugh now. He’s in the NFL, after all, and set for all that has to offer.
One such thing is a bit of money, although the rookie said the first thing he plans on buying is a home for his mother.
“Just get her out of the neighborhood that I was born and raised in,” he said. “I want to move her out here. It’s sunny all year round — I told her it was a beautiful place, I’d seen her looking out of the plane, ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ when we were landing.
“I think she agrees this is a beautiful place, and somewhere that would be a blessing to live.”
Raelakia, who raised her son in Camden, New Jersey, had never been to Arizona prior to Friday but said thus far, it is everything her son proclaimed it to be. Soon it will also be home to them all, and she said the idea of her son buying her a house is something she appreciates.
“I’m not looking for handouts, it was never a thing of pay me back,” she said. “Good kid — he’s got a heard of gold, especially when it comes to mom.”
Reddick did not have a hard time convincing his parents to come out west with him, with his mother saying that if that’s what he wanted, they were ready to pack up make the move.
It has all happened quite quickly, however, as it was later Thursday, early Friday, when Reddick asked his parents to join him in Arizona.
“Sure, we’ve got it,” Raelakia said. “We’re here, he’s here, he’s happy to be here — he wanted to be here — I couldn’t imagine it any other way. I couldn’t imagine it any other way.”
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