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LaTroy Hawkins gives guidance to his godson, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes

LaTroy Hawkins gives guidance to his godson, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes

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The ideal godfather plays a role that is equal parts second father and uncle, friend and sage adviser.

Given that, it’s no surprise that through the years when watching sports on TV, there is a very good chance you have seen a godchild of Gary native LaTroy Hawkins performing on a big stage.

Hawkins might not have recently received two Hall of Fame votes in his first and only appearance on the ballot because of the stats he compiled in 21 seasons for 10 Major League teams.

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Instead, the checks next to his name could have been symbolic gestures in recognition of his strong character, leadership and contributions to the game and to what he has done with his fame for others. Hawkins’ largesse has benefitted multiple needy causes, including those as far away as Hurricane Katrina victims in Alabama and Mississippi and ones closer to home, including Gary Youth Baseball.

Hawkins, 48, is godfather to Elijah Johnson, starting guard for Kansas in the 2012 Final Four. Hawkins also is the godfather of Jordyn Oliver, key reserve on perennial women’s basketball powerhouse Baylor. Big stages for Johnson and Oliver, but not compared to the one that another Hawkins godchild played on a year ago and will perform on again today.

Hawkins is godfather to Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who at the age of 25 will try to defeat Tom Brady and the Buccaneers to add to a list of accomplishments that already includes reigning Super Bowl champion and MVP and 2018 NFL MVP.

Mahomes’ father, Pat Mahomes, and Hawkins were teammates with the Twins, for whom Hawkins now has the title, “Special Assistant, Baseball Operations,” which entails scouting pitchers and instructing them.

“I remember when Patrick’s dad told me his girlfriend was pregnant,” Hawkins said in a telephone interview from Tampa, where he will be in the stands for Super Bowl LV. “I remember when he was born. I would baby-sit him. He’d come stay at the house, come see me, during the season, so I’ve been pretty much a part of his life since he was a kid.”

What was he like as a child?

“He was very athletic,” Hawkins said. “He loved basketball, baseball and football. If there was a ball in it, he wanted to play it. But he was more into basketball than baseball at the time. And he was 8, 9 years old, playing on the 11, 12-year-old team, playing shortstop and pitching. He’s always been a standout athlete.”

Like Hawkins, who was a long jumper and leg of the 1,600-meter relay at West Side and such a talented basketball player that he received a full scholarship offer from Indiana State, his godson had a decision to make as to which sport to pursue.

“His dad and I always told him: 'Be whatever you want to be. You don’t have to play baseball because we played baseball. You need to choose what you want to do because if things don’t work out you can never say well, you made me play baseball. No, do whatever you’re comfortable doing,'" Hawkins said. "He was a helluva basketball player, helluva baseball player and turned into a helluva football player. So it was like, ‘You blaze your own path, whether that’s baseball, basketball or football, you blaze your own path. I don’t care what sport you pick, we’re going to support you.’”

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Clearly, Hawkins and Mahomes made the right choices.

“I’m happy he picked football, not just because it worked out, but because it’s something that he chose,” Hawkins said. “I think he chose it because it didn’t come as naturally easy for him as if he had become a baseball player or playing basketball. Playing football, he had to learn that sport. And the rest is history.”

To watch Mahomes lead the fleet Chiefs on drives is to imagine he was drawing up plays and improvising them on the fly in the crib. Not the case.

“He hasn’t been playing quarterback a long time,” Hawkins said. “He didn’t start playing quarterback until his junior year in high school, when he took the starting job halfway through the season. So he’s been playing quarterback maybe nine years. He was a (defensive back). His high school had a couple of D-I quarterbacks ahead of him. So when those guys graduated, he and his best friend had to fight it out, and they were playing one quarter each in the first half and one quarter each in the second half. So it was probably six or seven games into his junior year when he took over full-time. And that was when everything changed.”

Mahomes choosing the sport about which he had the most to learn didn’t surprise his godfather. Hawkins said he thinks Mahomes’ inherited competitive spirit played a role in that decision.

“Ultracompetitive,” Hawkins said. “Everything 'Big Pat' does is a competition. If you’re his friend, everything he does is a competition. And he’s pretty much good at everything. So, Patrick gets that from his dad. He’s super competitive when it comes to everything that he does.”

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The younger Mahomes has blossomed into such an icon in Kansas City that his signature hairdo has become a popular cut among young Chiefs fans. It also has become popular for older fans, men and women, to have Mahomes’ image tattooed on their bodies.

“That’s having a real profound effect on a community, on a fan base,” Hawkins said. “That’s impressive. That blows my mind. That really blows my mind. To have an up close and personal seat since really the beginning has been pretty cool, a pretty cool advantage I’ve had.”

The quarterback’s fame hasn’t changed the essence of the person, according to his godfather.

“I can tell you how I can tell he’s still humble,” Hawkins said. “I didn’t go to any games this year. His last game I went to was the Super Bowl, and he still did what he’s been doing since I was coming to his games when he was a freshman in high school. He still thanks me for coming to his games.”

When Mahomes thanks his godfather for coming to Super Bowl LV, Hawkins is confident he’ll do so as the first quarterback to lead his team to back-to-back Super Bowl titles since Brady’s Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVIII and XXXIX.

This will be the fifth matchup between the quarterbacks from different generations. Brady won the first two, Mahomes the two most recent, including the AFC championship game last season.

“Hopefully, he can pull out another victory against the GOAT,” Hawkins said. “I love their chances. I think they’ll win handily.”

Hawkins said he doesn’t normally like to pick a score, but gave it a shot and settled on Chiefs 41, Buccaneers 28.

Then again, Hawkins might be biased. He's not Brady's godfather. He was four-and-a-half months shy of his fifth birthday when Brady was born.

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