In honor of Father's Day, Lisa Zimmerman explores how being a dad has impacted the lives of five members of the NFL family.
In November 2016, Isaiah Pead's life changed dramatically. Twice. On November 5, his first child, son Isaiah Jr., known as Deuce, was born. Exactly one week later, Pead, an NFL running back, lost his left leg as the result of a catastrophic car cash.
Pead underwent surgery and was sedated for several days. When he finally came out of his haze, he had no memory of the accident. The first two things he asked were "What happened?" and "I want to see my son."
Now Pead was an amputee and a new father. And it was fatherhood that gave him new motivation -- and valuable perspective -- as he started the journey of not only rebuilding his own life, but also overseeing the formation and foundation of his son's life.
Pead was in the intensive care unit for a week -- a place children aren't normally allowed. Pead wouldn't take no for an answer: Every day, his girlfriend, Ruby, brought Deuce to see him. Once he was moved to a regular room, the two were "inseparable."
Three weeks later, on Dec. 8, Pead was released from the hospital and headed home to continue his recuperation there. However, Ruby's maternity leave was up and it was time for her to go back to work. Pead didn't hesitate -- he would take care of Deuce. It wasn't easy. In addition to having lost his left leg, his right leg had been injured in the accident and was still healing; Pead couldn't yet walk. But, his son needed him.
In a sense, it was the beginning of not one, but two new lives.
"I didn't want him to go to daycare, so I started watching him," Pead said. "Waking up with him, going to sleep with him, scheduling around his life and, in a sense, that put my life and everything I was going through on hold. Even though it was a drastic change, I still came second. My son comes first. If we had to get in the shower, I'd put him in my lap and scoot across the floor. I couldn't even hop yet because my other knee was still messed up."
With new challenges come new goals, and Pead initially had a very simple one that motivated him every day.
"In a few months, when I was able to stand and use crutches, I'd grab what I call my Daddy Strap (a baby carrier) and I'd crutch around with him, but I never got to hold him and walk around with him. I never felt what his grip felt like. That was my biggest goal to get me through everything. I just wanted to hold him in my arms and walk around."
Nine months later, Pead was fitted for a prosthetic leg and took those first steps with Deuce in his arms.
"It felt good. I didn't want to put him down," Pead recalled. "He was already nine months, so it was weird, but I've always led my life that you can't cry over spilled milk. Everything is in God's plan, if things don't work out in your plan, it wasn't supposed to be."
Pead has continued to move forward in his life and Deuce is by his side every step of the way. Pead has started a trucking business and his son is with him at every meeting. He calls Deuce, "My young CEO."
And it doesn't stop there. While his football career is over, his career as an athlete is not. Pead has already set his sights on the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, where he hopes to compete in track. However, Pead is still learning to walk and run, so he's using Deuce, now 19 months old, as his training partner.
"I'm basically 10 months old and learning. I beat him to walking," Pead laughed. "We had a bet, and I won. The loser has to do 10 push-ups. As soon as he learns how, he'll do them.
"I want to give him the world. He's given me a bigger purpose. I think about the person he will become. I was a very humble kid growing up. I was an underprivileged child, but I was very athletic. I was a very faithful man to the Lord and I understood how to be humble. I know Deuce will see life from a whole different perspective, seeing me missing a leg and having played at a high level of sports. If I continue to be me and teach him morals in life, then he'll grow up to have that same humility."
For Pead, every day is now Father's Day.