Family Life


(This is an excerpt from Assisted by John Stockton and Kerry L. Pickett.)

“Raising a family of six children has been an adventure. Fatherhood is an incredible gift. Nada and I stumbled along with good intentions and humility. We arrived at a hybrid style of sorts in terms of raising the kids. We rejected some traditional methods and embraced others.

“We often joked about our traditional roles, with me as the breadwinner and Nada as the homemaker. We did cross over as necessary. I cooked, cleaned, got up with the children, and took care of them when they were sick—but only sparingly. Nada would occasionally take out the garbage, mow the lawn, and work outside the home. We both pitched in where we could without overly defined roles. Common sense dictated much of this division of labor. Nada was a better cook, and I’m pretty sure she couldn’t guard Isiah Thomas (not that I could). We took on the challenge of parenting together from the beginning.

“A cornerstone of that teamwork was our decision that Nada would stay home with the children, and I would go to work. Our decision in this regard was made considerably easier by my occupation, but I am certain we would have accepted almost any economic hardship to keep her at home. It was that important to us.

“Nada and I also found ourselves faced with a far more serious issue during her last pregnancy with Samuel. At age thirty-nine, she was bumped up into a higher risk category for birth defects. As a result, we were asked if we wanted an amniocentesis procedure to determine if any defects existed in the baby; the purpose of the test is to allow parents time to terminate the pregnancy if serious defects exist. For us, it was a rhetorical question they were required to ask, but they already knew our answer. We would accept the baby as it came. No test was necessary.

“I have given the issue of the rights of an unborn child a great deal of thought over the course of many years. My upbringing was a valuable guide. Simply stated, I believe that an unborn baby has the right to life. This is not a regurgitation of my religious or family upbringing. Nor are my thoughts connected to any political party or philosophy. For me, the logic is simple—no one should be able to dictate whether an innocent child, literally with his or her whole life ahead of them, should live or die. I’m convinced the fetus, once the cells start dividing, is a developing human being. No amount of definitional massaging is going to change its DNA to something else. In this country we recognize that everyone is endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights. Preeminent among these is the right to life itself.

“Women should certainly have the right to choose what they do with their own bodies. They have fought and sacrificed for those and other freedoms that haven’t been granted historically. They should expect nothing less, and we should tolerate nothing less. However, once conception occurs there is a third person whose rights must also be considered. The mother is responsible for that life. Her rights don’t trump those of her child. I believe the vulnerable young life inside of every mother merits the same protections we guarantee to everyone in this great land of ours.

“History will most likely judge us harshly for allowing the practice of abortion to exist on our watch. Having said that, it is important to note that shoveling blame or generating guilt is not my objective. I condemn no one. Unfortunately, abortion is legal and accepted by a large portion of our country’s population. That is the culture we live in. Accepting this as a fixed and final practice, however, denies the positive forces in our history. We have faced many moral scourges and found a way within our democratic process to become a better society, a better place to live. We have confronted and, to a large extent, conquered ugly realties such as slavery, segregation, and gender discrimination. We should celebrate the fact that a great nation, like a great team, sticks up for its weakest members. In this case, the unborn need a voice. They deserve the same chance all of us received or we wouldn’t be here to argue the point.

* * *

“Nada and I were blessed six times with the gift of new life. Each of the children were unique and beautiful in his or her own fashion. Each arrival brought adaptation and change to our lives as well as the other children’s. They were bumped to different rooms and seats at the dinner table. Through it all, Nada made the largest sacrifices and lifestyle changes to become a mother of six. She possesses countless talents that remain anonymous outside of our home because she values motherhood above all else. For my part, the routines that I had deemed so vital rightfully became secondary to my responsibilities as a father, but they did continue. I took my pregame naps usually curled up with a baby. Game day departure times suffered with emergency diaper changes that often required a wardrobe change. No longer could I spend all day thinking about the game as activities with the kids abounded. Helping with homework also crept into my pregame routine. These changes were good; they offered a different perspective. Basketball wasn’t the most important thing in the world. That realization, ironically, helped me play more relaxed and, in turn, play better. Many more changes would greet me as I blended my career as a member of the Jazz with my young, growing family’s needs. As I have already indicated, the foundations given to me by my parents have proved invaluable. I enjoy being a dad. Being a good parent, however, is a challenge. I haven’t always succeeded. But meeting that obligation is far more important to me than being a good basketball player ever was. Along with Nada and our children, I will keep working at making the family better tomorrow than it was today."

(John Stockton and Kerry L. Pickett, Assisted: An Autobiography [Salt Lake City: Shadow Mountain, 2013], 158–62).


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