Provided by Vai Sikahema
Editor's note: This is the third in a series looking back on Vai Sikahema's career in the NFL.
It has become almost a right of passage for professional athletes to reward their parents, especially Mom, with a mansion after signing that first big contract.
I wasn't in that position, even after the Cardinals ripped up my rookie contract and rewarded me with a new multi-year deal that included a bigger signing bonus than the one I was given as a 10th-rounder. NFL contracts aren't guaranteed except for the signing bonuses, so I still had to play to earn the salaries in my contract.
After two consecutive Pro Bowl appearances in my first two years in the NFL, I had as much job security as one could hope for in a league often known among players as "Not For Long." So when the Cardinals moved to Arizona, I had to carefully manage what I'd be able to do to help my parents financially, without jeopardizing our own precarious nest egg. Our second child, another boy we named Leland James and nicknamed LJ after my BYU teammate, punter Leland (Lee) Johnson, was born the summer we arrived in Arizona. Our little family was growing as my career was skyrocketing.
We determined the most immediate relief we could offer my parents was to "retire" my mother from her seamstress job she had since I was a little boy.
Like many LDS women who shared our family predicament, my mother often felt guilty that she had to work to help my father make ends meet, when often her meager wages were not enough. As a family, we were familiar with the Bishop's Storehouse just north of Main Street in Mesa, where we routinely worked every Saturday in exchange for the assistance we received. Once, I remember going on a Scout campout and having my peers laugh and make fun of me when I unwittingly opened a can of peaches that had the "Deseret" label.
It didn't occur to me that a can of peaches from the Bishop's Storehouse would be cause for ridicule. From that day forward I was conscientious of the "Deseret" labels on cans, toothpaste or anything else I took on campouts from the storehouse, removing them with Dad's razor so they looked generic and annoying my parents in the process when, inexplicably, the canned goods in our cupboards were label-less. But all that was in the past as we were experiencing the American Dream in 3-D.
Mom's co-workers at Arizona Needle threw her a farewell party on her last day, and knowing my presence would thrill her, I showed up with balloons, flowers and a cake — playing the role of the "good-son-made-good." I was also anxious to move my parents from the little home where they raised us, to something a little nicer. Not a mansion — just a home in a little better neighborhood that I figured I could pay off within the four years of my new contract. We managed to save enough from all the incentive bonuses from my rookie contract to buy our first home — a modest four-bedroom home with a pool in Gilbert, in an upscale lake-side community fittingly called "The Islands."
When my wife and I discussed our proposal of a new home with my folks, I was somewhat surprised with my mother's reaction. "You kids are all moved out, Dad and I have more room than we need in this home," she said. "Besides, we like our neighbors and don't want them to think we 'made it.' We haven't. You have. We're OK."
Then, almost as an after-thought, she threw in this caveat: "If you want to spend money on us, why don't you take care of our bills for a couple years and let us go on a mission?" My dad wasn't quite sure he wanted to miss my first NFL season in Arizona. Dad especially enjoyed all the perks of the NFL — locker room privileges after games, free shoes, gear, complimentary tickets and even trips to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii.
- Utah Jazz: No lottery luck, so Jazz remain in...
- BYU basketball: Dave Rose hoping Tyler Haws'...
- Results from Tuesday's high school softball,...
- 4 reasons why you need to paraglide at Point...
- High school boys soccer: Lehi edges...
- Utah high school updated tournament pairings...
- The offseason status of NFL players with Utah...
- BYU football: Fan-developed software gives...
- High school baseball: 5A, 4A state... 56
- BYU basketball: Dave Rose hoping Tyler... 20
- Bodyguards allegedly beat up 2 fans who... 19
- Utah Jazz: No lottery luck, so Jazz... 19
- Dick Harmon: BYU coach Mike Littlewood... 15
- Utah State football: New coach Matt... 11
- If hired, Jeff Hornacek will face same... 10
- BYU football: Fan-developed software... 8