There are some good stories that have come out of the NFL this year. There’s Devon Still and his team, the Cincinnati Bengals, supporting his cancer-stricken daughter and cancer research and there’s Super Bowl champion Richard Sherman.
Wrong man, you’re thinking? He’s a thug and a loudmouth?! Try a hard working, educated black man instead.
There’s a side of Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman not many people know about. The vocal (and in some eyes, controversial) NFL champion got a lot of attention for his animated response to a sideline question last year, but there’s more to him that that one moment.
His father, Kevin Sherman knows that better than most.
His son isn’t just an athlete. He’s a Stanford graduate that had a 4.2 GPA at Dominguez High in Compton, not just a trash talker.
However, Sherman elder does haul trash.
He still gets up before the sun comes up to provide for his family by working for the LA sanitation department, a job he’s held for 26 years.
“People say, ‘Let your son take care of you,’” Kevin Sherman, 50, told the Los Angeles Times. “Yeah, but I’ve got a few years left until I retire. Why would I mess up my own retirement? Why should my son have to foot everything? I have a medical plan that will cover me. Why should my son have to pay my medical bills? It doesn’t make sense to me.”
Not only does Richard’s hard-working dad refuse his son’s support, but his mother, Beverly Sherman, works with disabled inner-city children.
“She’s always been the one holding down the household. . . . I’ve gone up there many times to see her and spend time with the kids. It’s remarkable, man. That’s probably as humbling as it gets. I think it was incredibly significant,” Richard told the L.A. Times about the example his parents set. “It forced my brother and me to understand priorities and family. You’ve got to do everything in your power to make sure your family is taken care of.”
Like father, like son, Kevin Sherman was an athlete growing up and in a way, his son is living his dream. After hanging with the wrong crowd and being shot twice, Kevin spent time working at fast-food restaurants and a flower shop joining the Department of Sanitation.
“After that I said, ‘To hell with hanging out with people,’” he said. “I went out and got a job, and I’ve worked ever since. It’s not as tough as it used to be,” he says of his profession. “We used to hand-load. We’d literally pick up the cans and dump them. Now, it’s gotten a little easier. It’s more of a prideful job now; you stay clean most of the day. The old days were sweaty. You’d bust your back just to get through… It was the price I had to pay to feed my family.”
If that wasn’t tough enough, Kevin lost his right eye at as a teenager in a go-kart explosion.
Richard says seeing his father persevere so he and his brother could flourish was an inspiration.
“Just living with one eye is tough in its own right. But then all the adversity that came with it, it’s remarkable how far he’s come and how hard he’s worked. When I was young, I tried to drive with one eye closed just to see how hard it was. I can’t imagine going through that,” Richard said.
That his father was there to see him play as part of last year’s Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks helped Richard to feel that his father’s sacrifices paid off.
“I’m so glad my dad was there to see that,” Richard said. “You always want to make your dad proud, and I’m very happy he got a chance to see that game. He also had a dream to play in the NFL and do all these things, but it didn’t end up working out because of all these circumstances. He’s been able to live vicariously through his son. That makes me pretty happy too.