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Hines Ward’s Mother Raised Him Right

Posted February. 08, 2006 04:30,   


Hines Ward’s mother, Kim, was too nervous to attend Super Bowl 40 on Sunday.

“My son called home yesterday and he was in good spirits. He said, ‘Mom, we won the Super Bowl,’” Kim said. “He did not say a word about being voted the game’s most valuable player (MVP).”

That morning, Ward appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program and said, “The MVP award is a tribute to the whole team.” He didn’t even brag about it to his mother.

“I always taught my son to be modest, but to also have pride. I think that was why he was a mature and independent child from an early age,” Kim said.

Kim and her sister grew up under a single mother and had to start working at young ages. She was working as an accountant in a nightclub catering to American soldiers in Korea when she met and married Hines Ward Sr., five years her junior, who brought her to America.

She ended up getting a divorce and fought hard to get by in an unfamiliar world. Her life story is now widely known throughout America.

“I once worked three jobs at once. One full-time job and two part-time jobs,” Kim said. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in 2002 that that same work ethic was passed down to her son. “Just like his mother who once worked three jobs at once, Ward successfully handled two or three positions like running back and quarterback,” the paper said.

Just like his mother, he also inherited her tears. When fellow teammate Jerome Bettis wanted to quit the game of football after the Pittsburgh Steelers lost the NFL American Football Conference championship game last year, he dissuaded him with tears. He always sheds tears when he talks about his mother as well.

He lives as thriftily as his mother does. Last September, he signed a four-year, $28.5 million contract with the Steelers, but he still prefers to wear three-dollar t-shirts. He is sometimes called the “blue-collar sports star.”

With a Super Bowl MVP for a son, Kim is no longer poor. But back when she struggled to support her child, she was not poor in her heart, either. “Although we didn’t by as well as others, we were never poor,” Kim said.

Kim still works at a nearby high school cafeteria five days a week for a few hours a day. “Why be idle when you can work?” she says.

Ward has a tattoo of a smiling Mickey Mouse on his right arm under his name in Korean. Of all characters, why Mickey Mouse?

“My son likes Mickey Mouse because he smiles no matter how tough things are. You might have noticed that he smiles even after getting tackled by another player,” Kim said. “And the MVP of the Super Bowl becomes a Disney spokesperson too. My son will be thrilled to find that out.”

Jong sik Kong kong@donga.com