At just over six foot tall, Kyle Lowry may not be the most imposing figure in basketball. But as any Toronto Raptors fan will know, he more than makes up for it with his dogged tenacity on and off the court.
The point guard joined the franchise back in 2012 and has gained the love and adoration of Torontonians ever since. Lowry helped send the team to the playoffs four years in a row (from 2014-17), and recorded their best ever playoffs record in 2016 —where they were narrowly pipped to a place in the finals by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This Father’s Day, the dad to two adorable boys (Karter, 6 and Kameron, 12) has teamed up with the Dove Men+Care Campaign to celebrate not only traditional dads, but all the men who impacted the kids in their lives growing up. From his brother, Lonnie, to his basketball coach, Jay Wright, Kyle chats about the men in his life who helped to teach him the life lessons that he now passes on to his own sons.
We sat down with the big-hearted Raptor to find out how he handles fatherhood, being a role model, and how he considers the Raptors unofficial mascot—Drake —a close friend of his.
Hi Kyle, thanks so much for talking to Urban Moms today! Why is it so important for kids to have a strong father figure in their lives?
Kyle: It’s important—laddering back to the Dove Men+Care campaign—to have a father figure that will help you be a man, be strong, and be successful with a strong, sturdy, background and a backbone; who is always going to be there for you and is always going to put yourself and your family in the right situation to be successful—and take the responsibility of being a man. It was pretty important for me growing up to have a brother; that was my Father Figure.
Would you agree that the other male figures in your life—brothers, uncles etc—were just as important growing up?
K: I completely agree. Having a man figure in your life is just as important. Not all kids grow up with a traditional father figure or their biological father—not everyone is fortunate enough to have that. That’s why it was important for me to have people like my brother and my high school coach. Having those guys in my life made me see the importance of being a man. Jay Wright, my college coach [at Villanova] was a great mentor, and put it this way—if we had 100 conversations, 99 of them were not about basketball. They were about being a man and being a responsible adult.
What does “being a man” mean to you?
K: The meaning for me is about being an honorable person, a responsible person—and being an intelligent person. You put your family first and make sure that they’re in a position to succeed.
How is raising your sons in 2017 different to the way you were raised? Which lessons are important to teach them today?
K: Well, there are a couple of differences. My kids won’t grow up the same way that I grew up. I’m fortunate enough to be in a different position now. They won’t have to grow up in the neighbourhood I grew up in, around the violence I grew up in—they won’t have to see that. But I learned early in the world, and in my life, that you have to understand right from wrong, good from bad—and be smart and put yourself in the right position not to get in trouble. That’s one thing they won’t have to deal with. But I still have to make sure they understand right from wrong and good from bad, what to do, what not to do, and how to be the right person.
In 2017, you need to teach them the political aspects of life—it’s crazy world out there and there are a lot of things going on in this world. What I have to teach my kids is that it’s okay to have a voice, to take a stance for the good and for what you believe in—that’s important.
How do you make it work when you’re away from your family? How do you maintain the closeness?
K: Luckily, even when I’m on the road, I have a great family—I have my brother, brother-in-law, my kids’ uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews that I speak to, plenty of family members who are very close to me. Very close friends make sure my kids have a backbone and other Father Figures to learn from. They know that even when I’m not around, I’m still around—they have people in their lives to make them understand and show them things. I make sure I talk to them a lot—we’re a tight-knit family, so that’s how we keep it like that.
What do you love about Toronto?
K: I love the culture of Toronto; it’s crazy, you have everything. I’ve never met so many people in my life that have four or five different backgrounds! Whatever you could possibly think of, you have it in Toronto. I’ve found so many little pockets of the city that I love.
Best moment as a Raptor so far?
K: My favourite moment is the fact that I got a chance to be a teammate with DeMar (DeRozan) and getting so close to him. To be able to create a situation where all are brothers no matter what—every day when I’m walking into the gym, I’m so happy to meet my brothers. It’s not one moment, it’s just all the different ones we share together.
Well, our favourite moment would have to be your half-court buzzer beater which sent the Raptors into overtime in the playoffs—that was awesome!
Haha, thank you. Yep, that’s a good one!
Is your son Karter still a Drake fan?
K: He loves him. What’s funny is that now he’s been around him, it’s just him—he’s just a regular guy for Karter. Now I’m at the point where I can call him my friend. Everyone loves Drake!