SALT LAKE CITY — Most parents worry when work commitments steal precious family time.
But for a dad who makes his living playing professional sports, it's not so much a matter of if he'll miss milestones, but which moments he won't experience.
"It's a tough job," said Jazz guard Raja Bell, whose wife, Cindy, is pregnant with their third son. "But it's a give-and-take."
The give is that NBA players have to be on the road, sometimes a couple of weeks at a time so they miss a lot of moments that other parents might take for granted.
The take is that they have parents who can provide opportunities for them that their friends might never know.
"They get privy to this kind of environment and access to all of these NBA stars that a lot of kids don't get to meet and sit courtside and high-five them," said Bell, whose sons are 4 1/2 and 3 years old. "All of that is great stuff. But it does put a strain on your relationships because you're gone for six or seven days at a time. There is always that adjustment period when you get back home. Ultimately, I'm really able to do some stuff for them that my parents weren't able to afford for me, so it's worth it."
Bell and his wife life in Miami, but decided she and the boys would move to Utah last month so he could spend more time with the boys.
"My dad came out to help her with the boys," Bell said. "My guys are so young that we kind of agreed that four months away would be a real long time. Not being able to see the new little guy was just going to be too much."
While most women would cringe at the idea of changing doctors with a little more than a month left in a pregnancy, Bell said his spouse is used to the life of an NBA wife.
"She's really on top of it," he said smiling. "She's used to this game. She usually keeps two or three doctors."
So her doctor in Miami has already conferred with her doctor here in Salt Lake City and the Bells are preparing for baby boy number three.
Bell said he deals with the difficulties of being gone a lot by savoring every moment he has.
"I enjoy watching (the boys) play soccer more because I don't know enough about it," said Bell laughing. "My (oldest) played in his first (basketball) league this year, and it was just joy. My little guy loves to play defense. That's what he loves to do. And he just runs around that court. I got a big kick out of it."
Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin knows a little about what Bell is experiencing.
He raised two kids while playing in the NBA, and said like any parent who works, you just have to make the most of the time you do have and not fret about what you miss.
"It's tough, but it's a little different than a parent working nine to five because they're able to come home every evening," said Corbin, who was on his way to Cedar City to watch his son Tyrell Corbin, who plays for UC Davis, take on SUU, when the Jazz traded Mehmet Okur last week. "You're away a lot so you have to maximize your time when you're here. You're going to practice, and you're tired a lot when they come home from school. I just made an effort when my kids were younger to get up early and take them to school when I was in town, to pick them up after school when I was here, and my wife could do the other things she needed to do. There is quality time spent with the kids in the car before school, finding out what they're thinking before school."
He said there isn't a time in the lives of children where being absent is easier.
"It's hard when they're younger because they're so young and they're learning so much, so fast," he said. "They're changing so fast and you go on a two week road trip and come back, and it's like, 'Wow, they can do this now!' But as they get older, it's really important to be around them, to be around their friends and to be a part of the thins they're doing and let them know you're interested in the things they're doing."
It can be as frustrating and disappointing for the child as it is for the parent.
"You miss a lot of stuff," he said, "School programs, meetings with teachers. It wears on them a little bit and it worries the parent a little."
Which is why it's important to explain why the job requires so much time away, and finding ways to make more time for them when everyone is in the same city.
"It's tough, but you do your best to make them understand that you're not missing because you don't want to be there," Corbin said. "You're missing because you're working and trying to make life better for everybody."