Tuesday, November 20, 2018

‘I am living proof that a woman can raise a black boy into a man’

‘I am living proof that a woman can raise a black boy into a man’

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS | DELISA LYNCH

Marshawn and Delisa Lynch | Photo: Khristopher Squint Sandifer

When NFL star Marshawn Lynch opened the Las Vegas outpost of his Beast Mode retail store last month, hip-hop thumped from a Mercedes van parked outside of the location at the Town Square mall.

But even more resonant than the bass: a sense that the Raiders star’s business achievements (he now owns stores in three states) and philanthropic generosity (he helps lead the Fam 1st Family Foundation, which puts extraordinary opportunities in the lives of disadvantaged kids) spring from something deep inside him — layered beneath the alpha-aggressive persona that has made him an on-the-field sensation in 11 years as an NFL running back.

For insight into the man she raised, we caught up with his mother, Delisa Lynch — who will serve as a grand marshal in this month’s Las Vegas Caravan for Mammogram, which aims to raise breast cancer awareness among black women with a parade of cars drenched in consciousness-stirring colors.

Does your son’s Beast Mode philosophy resonate with how you raised him and his siblings?

Yes. My drive is a whole lot of their drive. My children’s drive is relentless because of the drive I continue to have. I instilled this kind of determination into my children as a single mother raising four children. I told them not to ever wait around for someone to do something for them. You have to get up and go do it for yourself.

We are excited to have you and Dr. Annette Mayes as grand marshals for the Las Vegas Caravan for Mammogram. As you know, it is for Breast Cancer Awareness Month — targeting black women, who die from the disease as much higher rates.

That means a lot to me — because my godmother is a breast cancer survivor who had one of her breast removed. She showed me how breast cancer can happen to anyone. She has survived the deadly disease for 20 years and it’s a blessing. I always try to tell my children to find the positive things in life. There’s so much negativity, that you have to stay positive and let the negative things roll off your shoulders.

Why did Marshawn decide to open a Beast Mode store in Las Vegas?

One thing about Marshawn is, if people ask for it, he tries to make it happen. He opened his store in Oakland because the fans wanted it. And when he played for Seattle, the people again asked him to open a store. He received many calls from people in Las Vegas — and he decided to again open another Beast Mode store. It couldn’t have happened at a better time. It was perfect! The Raiders are coming to Vegas, and it’s all happening right there. It is a blessing that he can set up stores and watch them grow.

Why do you think Marshawn is offering a new breast cancer awareness shirt in his Vegas store?

Marshawn is not just a football player — he likes to give back to communities. He is aware that he has a lot of females in his family, and he looks up to them. Our whole family supports breast cancer awareness causes. I encourage this, and we support it as a family. My hope is that we will see more young ladies getting screenings. As a matter of fact, I just received my mammogram a couple of months ago — and it was great to receive the letter that I was in good breast health. But what about those ladies who don’t receive a good letter after their mammogram? Early detection is the best detection. It would be great to keep Breast Cancer Awareness promotion going all year around and not just in October. I put on my pink shoes and clothes throughout the year to remind women to take care of their breast health and to go to the doctor.

What is the biggest misconception about Marshawn Lynch?

Everyone who meets him says, “He is a great guy.” A lot of people who have never met him think that he is a mean person. When you really meet Marshawn you will know why I call him a gentle giant.

Why do you think your children are so passionate and committed to family?

I can tell you one thing I believe in — in this day of cell phones and social media — is keeping lines of communication open within your family. When my children were young, I would do a family roundtable with them. There were no distractions and we just talked about our days, what they did at school, and friends and peer pressure. We talked about anything they were experiencing. Any one of my children can tell you what I always told them when they were young. I told them, “If God takes me today or tomorrow, let me know that my children are going to look after each other.” I feel that a lot of parents should start instilling this in their children at a very young age. I want to always know that my children will look after one another. I will rest peacefully knowing they will take care of one another. I’m good. It is such a joy for me to hear my son tell his sister, “You wanted a store in Vegas? Well, now you have one.” And it never was about him — it’s about him looking out for his siblings.

What do you say when you hear, “A single woman can’t raise a boy into a man”?

You know what? If you put what’s needed into your children at an early age — such as discipline, respect for me as their mother, and respect for others — they will honor it. The things I would tell my children at an early age they speak of today. They say, “Mom, you remember when you told me this or that?” Doesn’t matter if you are a single man or woman raising your child alone — you can do it. When I look at my children, and where they are in their lives, I am proud. I am living proof that a woman can raise a black boy to become a man. I don’t take full credit for how they all turned out. It truly did take a village — and that is the blessing.

 

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