By Van Adams, Player Engagement Insider
Growing up in Boutte, Louisiana, a small town just outside of New Orleans, Houston Texans running back Alfred Blue III’s competitive fire and sense of family was nurtured at an early age. His mom, Erica Clements, and his dad, Alfred Blue Jr., attended rival high schools (Destrehan High School and Hahnville High School in St. Charles Parish). Football at every level is a major attraction in Louisiana. During games, the rivalries were intense as family members vigorously cheered on their respective teams. But afterwards, the rivalry would pause giving way to post-game family time, which almost always included a full spread of Southern cuisine, a game of spades, and dominoes.
It comes as no surprise that the former LSU scholarship athlete, Blue III, treasures spending time with his family and the bond he shares with them. One bond in particular is especially endearing – the bond between father and son, Alfred Jr. and Alfred III. Their relationship reaches beyond parent to child. Alfred Jr. is more like a big brother and best friend to his son.
“He doesn’t just get on me and lecture; he talks to me. He’s one of those parents who really helps you understand choices and consequences,” Blue III said. “He’s a cool dad. When my friends come around they want to hang out with him, they don't care if I’m there or not.”
When the Texans drafted Blue III in 2014, he reached out to his father, who was already living in Houston (he relocated there after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina) for guidance in navigating a new city. The father and son duo soon decided they would become roommates. By all accounts, an arrangement that works very well for both of them and has proven to be fiscally responsible as well.
During a time when most children leave home to embark on their life’s journeys without their parents, the 26-year-old Texans running back, took a different approach, seeing this as an opportunity for him and his father to grow even closer together.
“He was always the one in my corner. Since I was six-years-old, he never missed any of my games - middle school, high school, or college. Even now, he went to every home and away game this past season,” Blue III explained. “Having my dad for a roommate is kind of like making up for lost time when we didn't live in the same house when I was a kid.”
When Blue III was growing up, his father was a truck driver and would occasionally take him out on the road with him.
“Being on the highway with him going to different cities was a lot of fun. It would be just him and me, father and son,” Blue III said. “We didn't have any special plans, just being able to spend time with him going up and down the highway was enough for me.”
Little has changed when it comes to spending time with dad these days. The duo enjoys bonding over food, whether they eat out or stay home and cook meals together.
“Gumbo, red beans and rice, green beans, and cabbage, pretty much anything smothered with rice is on the menu,” Blue III said.
The influence the elder Blue’s presence has on his son is clear. Not only is he there helping his son with errands and tending to household matters during the day before he himself heads off to work at United Airlines, he’s there teaching valuable life lessons, offering guidance and moral support with words and actions.
During his college years at LSU, Blue III was faced with a few unfortunate circumstances that might have been enough to derail some. He sustained an ACL injury, dealt with personal family loss, and his family home burned down. Through it all, his father was by his side helping him navigate trying times and encouraging him to use football as a coping mechanism to stay focused.
“My dad was the one telling me to push through. He would say ‘don't worry about stuff you can’t control…what happens, happens. It’s about how you bounce back from stuff that happens to you that matters’. That helped me a lot,” Blue III recalled.
This Father’s Day weekend is shaping up to be one full of family and laughter as the family plans to get together for a cookout in the park. A tradition they have for most holidays and family celebrations.
Blue III insists the family gatherings are nothing extraordinary. Just family and friends hanging out in the park, kids playing in inflatable houses—just being kid, a deejay spinning tunes and a smorgasbord of the traditional flavors of the bayou state – crawfish boil, red beans and rice, gumbo and a full spread of Soul Food dishes. As they say in Louisiana, laissez les bons temps rouler!
Van Adams is an award-winning entrepreneur and small business owner with expertise in sports business and business development. Over the last decade, she has represented a number of iconic sports celebrities and executed marketing campaigns for their personal celebrity and/or business ventures. An advocate for women in business, Van is the creator and producer of Gathering on the Greens, a women’s golf initiative, and serves as President of the Board of Directors for the NYC Metro Chapter of Women in Sports and Events where she oversees programming and strategy. Van is an adjunct professor and often conducts workshops for the small business & sports business communities. She spends her spare time in a test kitchen baking or on a golf course working on her short game.