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Atlanta Dan
01-31-2006, 02:30 PM
I try to post links to stories, but since the Atlanta Journal-Constitution requires registration for access, I am posting in full this story on Hines Ward and his Mom. Inspiring stuff that gives some insight into what drives Hines.

By ALAN ROBINSON
AP Sports Writer

DETROIT ? Hines Ward is taking the trip of an NFL player's lifetime to the Super Bowl. It's the visit he's wanted to make since first playing youth football in Atlanta and, because of two AFC championship game losses, one he feared he might never achieve.

As much as reaching Detroit means to the Pittsburgh Steelers' four-time Pro Bowl receiver, the journey he takes in April will be equally significant for a much different reason.

For the first time in his adult life, Ward is traveling back to South Korea. One of the few Asian-heritage stars in NFL history, he's planning a two-week vacation there accompanied by the mother, Kim Young-hee, who came to America in the 1970s to be with her GI husband.

To the 29-year-old Ward, traveling to a country where the NFL is barely known represents much more than a chance to do some sightseeing, to be introduced to a culture he has been told about but has never seen in person.

This is about saying thanks to a mother who didn't know English when she moved to the United States, but knew of things far more important: the value of trust, honesty, hard work, loyalty.

And, most of all, of love.

"My mom is why I'm here today," Ward said Monday, shortly after the Steelers arrived in Detroit. "My mom worked her tail off for me. She taught me how important it is to work hard. I'm not here if it's not for my mom."

Even if, Ward said, smiling, "She's a nervous wreck this week."

Ward, the Steelers' record holder with 574 career catches, never needs much provocation to become teary-eyed. Teammates still kid him about breaking down last year because he was upset Jerome Bettis might retire without playing in a Super Bowl.

To really bring out the emotions in Ward, one needs only to mention his mother. Ward invariably gets misty-eyed talking about her, as if he can't believe how lucky someone could be to have a mother like his.

"She means everything to me," Ward said.

Kim Young-hee must feel the same way about her son.

Shortly after coming to the United States, she and her husband divorced, leaving her in a country whose culture and language she didn't understand, and with a young son and no way to support him.

Then it got worse.

According to Ward, a court determined she could not suitably raise Hines without being able to speak English or hold a job. As a result, Ward's father and a new stepmother were awarded custody of Hines. It was a devastating blow to Ward's mother, who could have been forgiven for giving up and moving back home to Korea.

Remarkably, she didn't. And when Hines was in the second grade, he ran away from his father and returned to the mother he had never forgotten, and never left again until he went to Georgia to play football.

To raise Hines, Kim Young-hee often worked three jobs nearly around the clock, taking breaks only to sleep for a few hours and to go home to get her son up in the morning and make sure he had dinner.

She washed dishes, cleaned hotel rooms, worked as a cashier. Nothing was for her ? her only concern was making sure her son had clean clothes, food and the best home life she could provide, even if it wasn't a high-income lifestyle.

Ward didn't have a father to lean on ? he says he has no communication with him today ? but he did have direction. Even as his football career took off at Forest Park High near Atlanta, his mother made him concentrate on academics, and Ward received excellent grades.

His mother also taught him about the importance of a work ethic ? lessons he took to the football field where, out of necessity, he played wide receiver, quarterback and running back in college. (A long-forgotten stat: As a quarterback, Ward passed for 413 yards and ran for 56 yards in the Peach Bowl.)

When Ward came to the NFL as a third-round draft pick in 1998 but, in essence, a man without a position, he threw himself into his work. Determined to create a role for himself, he quickly became the NFL's best blocking wide receiver, helping him earn playing time until he became a starter a year later.

Ward's background may explain why he often plays with an edge uncommon for a skill position player. And, perhaps, why his mother kept working her school cafeteria job even after Ward signed his first million-dollar NFL contract.

"My mom never gave up," Ward said. "She did everything she could for me, worked three jobs. She worked her tail off."

Ward's name in Korean is tattooed on his upper right forearm, directly above a smiling Mighty Mouse carrying a football. The smile, he said, reflects how he plays: with ferocity, a will to win but also for fun, another lesson learned from his mother.

"I could never pay my mother back for what she did for me," Ward said.

clevestinks
01-31-2006, 02:32 PM
Great story! Hines is a true Steeler!

SteelerFanInCA
01-31-2006, 02:44 PM
Wow, that's a great story. I never knew that about Hine's past. What a good guy.

melroseplace
01-31-2006, 04:34 PM
I saw an interview with Hines on ESPN2 (I htink it was...) recently and he did cry talking about his mom. I think it's awesome that he's so humble and grateful for everything his mom did for him. such a great guy :)

syde18T
01-31-2006, 04:43 PM
That's a very good read.

steelersgirl86
01-31-2006, 05:00 PM
I have read some of that before and it is very touching..Great story..He is a great guy...

lotas
01-31-2006, 05:07 PM
His story sounds very similar to that of Jackie Chan's, as far as the connection with their mothers. That is awesome.

football loser
01-31-2006, 10:53 PM
NFL network has a bio on Hines. It includes interviews with his mother and Hines and lots of footage from his highschool and college career. My favorite part of the documentary was the elementary school days where Hines, as a young boy admitted to feeling ashamed because kids would tease him about being half-Korean. He admitted that he used to treat his mother very cruelly because of this. The story's true inspiration comes from the determination that his mother had to raise him under those conditions. Talk about perserverance, patience, dedication, and sacrifice.

It shows up on the football field when you watch Hines play today.

BlitzburghRockCity
01-31-2006, 11:33 PM
as football loser said, NFL network did a story on Hines and his life with his mom.. definately worth a look when they re aire it again.

HburgXL06
02-01-2006, 12:45 PM
This is why I love the Steelers. Not only are they are great team with players that play great, but they also are great people who have worked for where they are today. They have character and morals you can barely find anymore in the league. Each player on this team is an inspiration to me. Hines especially so because he plays for love of the game. You see him smilin like crazy whenever he is on the field just havin da time of his life. He will become a hall of famer and deserves to be honored along with his mother that never gave up. Go Hines and Go Steelers.

BuFu

melroseplace
02-01-2006, 12:50 PM
NFL network has a bio on Hines. It includes interviews with his mother and Hines and lots of footage from his highschool and college career. My favorite part of the documentary was the elementary school days where Hines, as a young boy admitted to feeling ashamed because kids would tease him about being half-Korean. He admitted that he used to treat his mother very cruelly because of this. The story's true inspiration comes from the determination that his mother had to raise him under those conditions. Talk about perserverance, patience, dedication, and sacrifice.

It shows up on the football field when you watch Hines play today.

I think that's the story they aired on ESPN2 recently, sounds like what I saw

BenPFJ1958
02-01-2006, 02:59 PM
We are extremely fortunate to have Hines playing for us !

What a great story ! :)

83-Steelers-43
02-01-2006, 03:25 PM
"In My Own Words" on FSN did a special on Hines Ward. I'm not sure if they showed it outside the Pittsburgh viewing area, but it was excellent.

melroseplace
02-01-2006, 03:27 PM
"In My Own Words" on FSN did a special on Hines Ward. I'm not sure if they showed it outside the Pittsburgh viewing area, but it was excellent.

that's what I watched lol...it was a really great interview, sounds very similar to what they're talking about