Her bag is packed, and in a few days, Joke Adeniji will watch her youngest son’s wildest dreams come true.
“I am so happy for him,” she said holding back tears. “It’s phenomenal. It’s beyond a blessing.”
Her son, 24-year-old Hakeem Adeniji plays guard for the Cincinnati Bengals. He was drafted by the team in the sixth round two years ago.
“He's been talking about this since he was little boy,” Joke Adeniji said.
Hakeem began playing pee-wee football at age six but education, his mom said, always came before sports.
“He never came in in a bad mood,” said Veronica O’Keefe, who taught Hakeem honors-level math at Garland High School.
In college, Hakeem wanted to follow in his brother Moshood's footsteps by playing football for the Air Force Academy.
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He signed a letter of intent, but months later, had his medical waiver denied of an allergy to cashews.
“I have never seen my child like that,” Joke Adeniji said. “I’m like, ‘Don’t worry about it, you always come from behind.'”
Instead, Hakeem played football at the University of Kansas where in his junior year, he sent O’Keefe, his former math teacher, a letter that still brings her to tears.
“He said, ‘I just want to thank you for being the best teacher I ever had. You always found a way to make class engaging and taught with so much passion,'” O’Keefe said reading the letter.
She’ll channel her passion when she watches the Super Bowl on Sunday.
“I'm getting everything done before, Sunday evening that's all I'm doing,” O’Keefe said.
From home, or from the stands, they are all in on #77, as the Adeniji family from Garland looks to add to an already enormous amount of achievements.