Take away the football, take away the fame, take away the records and what you have left is an amazing father who’s sheer joy in life is being a dad and raising his children with the utmost love and best values you can imagine. Jim Kelly is known for his phenomenal football career with the Buffalo Bills organization and for his “no huddle” offense that terrorized defenses in the early 90’s. However, under that tough exterior is a father who has and will continue to be the best he can be for his kids.
“Know that the job you’re doing now, as a father, is the most important work you’ll ever do,” Kelly said. Kelly believes that being a parent is the backbone to who their children are and will be. Parents help define their children; their support and reinforcement is what they will need throughout their life. “I’ve always taught my kids to have a firm handshake because when you meet someone your handshake is the first impression that someone has of you,” Kelly said.
A firm handshake and positive attitude will display to others that you have a strong personality and will power to outstand anything. Kelly teaches his daughters to be self sufficient and to be tough. “When they fall we don’t run to them and hold them,” Kelly said. He and his wife believe that it’s not necessary to coddle their children. “If they’re hurt or need me, of course I’m there and will show them love,” Kelly said. “But they have to know that they can do things by themselves and will be okay.”
“Being a parent is hard work but it is rewarding,” said Kelly. He has three children, two daughters and a son named Hunter that passed away in 2005 from Leukodystrophy (Krabbe disease). The disease is a rare but fatal degenerative disorder that breaks down the nervous system.
In his book The Playbook for Dads: Parenting Your Kids in the Game of Life Kelly discusses his life, parenting styles, advice and personal notes to his family; especially to his son Hunter.
“In the beginning we sheltered Hunter and treated him like he was fragile,” said Kelly. “But once we treated him normal and actually let him be a kid, things changed and Hunter accomplished things that kids with the disease couldn’t do.”
When Kelly talks about his son, in his book, you can feel the love and bond that they still have. Even though Hunter is in heaven watching over his family, it is evident that he and his father still have a very strong bond that will last forever.
“I wondered why the Lord would pick me to be the quarterback who was famous for losing four straight Super Bowls. I wondered why he would take Hunter, especially after I had done so many charitable things. It sounds horrible to give voice to that sentence, but it’s true and honest. These are the kind of things we ask ourselves in the quiet moments,” Kelly said.
Then Kelly accepted Christ and no longer questioned God and the situations that had unfolded in his life; instead he found gratitude and love. Miracles in life unfold in their own way. Even though Jim Kelly didn’t win the Super Bowl, he will go down in history as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. He is without a doubt a legend who dominated the league.
On February 14th, God gave Jim Kelly the best birthday present that he could have ever asked for; his son Hunter James Kelly. Even though their time was cut short, Kelly was still able to meet an angel that would forever change his life and way of thinking. “I believe the Lord used that motivation to draw me near to Himself,” Kelly said.
I thank God for your life. I thank God for the trials that our family walked through together. I thank you for the way that you taught us to live, each day, to the fullest. My life, today, is a flurry of activity – meetings, appearances, and radio interviews – but in all of it, I remember you, and I thank God for you. You’re my hero, my soldier, and always my son.
Jim Kelly is an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback who in eleven seasons in Buffalo led the Bills to the playoffs eight times, including four Super Bowls. In September 1997, three months after their infant son, Hunter, was diagnosed with a fatal disease, Jim and his wife Jill founded the Hunter's Hope Foundation.
For more information on Jim Kelly visit: www.jimkelly.com