The phone wouldn’t stop ringing and buzzing. It was 3:15am on August 16. I will never forget the moment. With my eyes half closed, I mindlessly searched to silence the noise. Who is calling me at this hour of the night, in the middle of training camp
When I looked at my phone and saw my brother’s name, I knew immediately this wouldn’t be good news.
Thinking back, the words are unclear, but the news changed my world forever.
Ahmed Samee, a man of many skills and interests, and more importantly, one of my best friends, was gone. He was my dad.
The next couple hours were a blur. I quickly searched flights from Richmond to Toronto to be with the rest of my family. The reflection and memories were halted by the fact that I knew I had to get to them.
In Muslim culture, burial must happen within 24 hours, so immediately, my family and I were on the phone with friends and family from across the world.
A little after 6 a.m., I boarded a flight to join my family.
It’s been a month since he suddenly passed and not a day goes by that I don’t think about him and the lessons he taught me.
Every Saturday, I’m blessed to strap on the pads and play a game I love, and without my dad, I wouldn’t be here. You see, when I was in eighth grade, I approached my dad telling him I wanted to quit football. I was done playing.
It was my dad who encouraged me to stick with it and not give up. Every time I step on that field, I think of him and know that I wouldn’t be here without him.
The funny thing is, throughout the recruiting process, no matter how many schools came knocking with offers, my dad’s vote was always Richmond. This place was special to him. There was something about this University and this program that stuck out to him. Like so many times before, now that I look back, he was right.
Reflecting on his life over the past few weeks has pushed me to dive into my beliefs more deeply and understand the values that he learned and passed on through the Muslim culture.
For much of my life, my dad was constantly working. As a kid, I may have taken it for granted just how hard he worked to take care of his family, but looking back, everything he did, everything he worked for, was to give us all the opportunities in the world.
The importance of family has become clearer than ever before. And that’s why putting on that Richmond uniform means a little bit extra every Saturday.
Not only did my dad encourage me to stick with football, but my family isn’t just in Toronto or Florida, it’s in this locker room.
When I landed in Toronto back in August, my phone was filled with messages of support from my teammates. We don’t just say “family”. We mean it. The 90-some guys in that locker room, we’re not just teammates. We’re brothers.
I’d love for my dad to watch me in person every Saturday. And while that may no longer be possible, I know that he’ll be with me every step of the way, watching my brothers and I play for each other.
This year’s for you Dad.
Words by: Adam Samee, redshirt OL on the Richmond Spiders Football team