Jeremy White: A football legend's
Part 1 of 2
Mike Vivenzio / Reporter
"Swing low, sweet chariot, Coming for to carry me
Suppose you are the son of a legend. Suppose your
father is bigger than the game, a figure that will transcend
generations. Suppose your father was also a deeply
spiritual individual as well as a minister.
Now suppose this legend, your father, has gone home.
Relaxed and laid back in an easy chair, wearing a t-shirt
and jeans, Jeremy White talks about what it was like growing
up with a man who commanded the attention of a room just by
smiling. You would think that being the son a football legend
would give you an edge, an attitude or a slight arrogance.
But Jeremy is as down to earth a person as there comes and at
6 feet 2 inches, 210 pounds he is a gentle young man, with
the same commanding smile as his father.
Jeremy White was born in Memphis, Tenn., on May 12, 1986,
the first son of Reginald Howard White and Sarah Felicia
White. Life for Jeremy was "normal."
"When (Reggie White) was in the house, he was just
dad," Jeremy recalls. "We had to share him a lot
because of football and because he was a preacher. In
fact, I'm just realizing how good he was the last few
Jeremy recalls the hard times growing up, with Reggie as his
"The time when he started changing his religious
beliefs was the hardest," Jeremy said. "We
were taught one thing our whole lives and now all of sudden
we had to change overnight. The core beliefs that we
held were right, but the little details, Dad said, needed to
be changed. He didn't let us move into it, we had
to go at his pace."
Reggie White was a preacher and in 1998 he started to dive
deeper into his faith and began to learn Hebrew, when Jeremy
was in the 10th grade, in order to translate the Bible.
It was at this time that Reggie started to find discrepancies
in the faith, such as the timing of Christmas.
"While we still believe in the birth of Jesus, we all
of sudden stopped celebrating Christmas," he said.
Jeremy resented his father during the learning of Hebrew
because Reggie pushed his family to move through it quickly.
"He sensed the problem and made us talk about it,"
Jeremy said. It was that talk that brought Jeremy the
closest he had ever been to his father. "I hated
it at first, but I realized how grounded it made me.
It helped me defend my faith."
Jeremy recalled a time when the family was vacationing
in Myrtle Beach.
"We were always used to people coming up to him and
asking for an autograph or a picture, but one time I went
into a magic shop and bought one of those metal buzzers that
you put on your hand. Dad asked me if he could borrow
and he put it on and just waited. The next guy who came
up was like 'Oh, man, Reggie White,' and went to
shake his hand, so Dad shook his hand and buzzed him. The guy
was shocked, but Dad gave him an autograph."
Jeremy had seen a transformation in his communication with
his father since leaving for college, but all that has
"He was the only person I could talk to about a lot of
things, and now I can't do that, and that is the hardest
part of not having him around," Jeremy said.
"It's weird because in high school when I would call
home, I would ask to talk to Mom, and when Dad answered and
Mom wasn't home, I would just hang up and not talk to my
dad. But ever since we had that talk and I came to college, I
would call home just to talk to my dad."
Growing up, Reggie was always trying to teach his children
about life, love and faith.
"The greatest thing he ever taught me was one day I
came home, I was in a situation that I wanted to tell him
about and all he said to me was, 'Son, as long as
you're happy, I'm good.' He always told me
he was proud of me and that he loved me but saying that, to
me, meant that no matter what he believed in me and any
decisions that I would make, he believed in."
If you look around Jeremy's room, you will not find any
pictures of his dad. You have to look in his closest to
find his dad's jersey and his drawer to find the one
picture he keeps. It's a picture of the family, his
mom, sister and he all wearing Reggie's jersey, and
Reggie White laying down, dressed in his Sunday best.
"The reason I don't put it up is because it is
really easy for me to get caught up looking at it and start
to cry," Jeremy said.
Even though his father is not here, Jeremy still talks to
his dad all the time. "I find myself, even when
I'm praying, specifically saying that I'm not talking
to God, I'm talking to him. I still think he is
with me." Jeremy is not one to try and look for
signs in the world that his dad is still here, but there was
one occasion that stuck out in his mind.
"Last semester I took a Hebrew class. I was writing on
the board in Hebrew and took a picture of it to show my mom
what I had done. When I took the picture and looked at
it, there looked to be an eye in the picture, behind the
blackboard. I took another picture right away and it was
gone." If you look at the picture you can
definitely see something in the background, an eye, almost
The one thing Jeremy would tell his dad if were here today
is that he has a girlfriend.
"He would be real happy to see that I have
somebody who is good for me," Jeremy said. The
second thing I would tell him is that he needed to go home
and take care of his daughter because she misses him more
than I do."
Reggie White has gone home but his deeply rooted faith and
the faith he helped ground his family with, keeps him here as
well, in the minds and in the hearts of those who loved him
and those who always will.
Contact Mike Vivenzio at email@example.com or