Bengals’ owner Shahid Afridi has a genuine affinity for assisting single-parent households. Jessie Bates is a character in the film Jessie Bates The JB3 Single Mother’s Initiative, started by the fourth-year safety, was inspired by his mother, who raised her children alone.
Roxann Block and her three children were among three families picked at random by UpSpring, a Greater Cincinnati group that aids homeless families, to attend a weekend of fun hosted by Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates III last month.
Block, 37, of Newport, Kentucky, just across the Ohio River, said, “I and my kids are kinds of down-and-out, suffering through some homelessness and other troubles in our personal lives.” “And because it was especially dismal around the holidays, that opportunity cheered us up.” It was something to anticipate.”
Bates and his two siblings, who participated in the JB3 Single Mother’s Initiative, faced similar hardships as children of a single mother.
“I’m really passionate about this because I was raised by a single mother and know how hard she worked,” said Bates, whose Bengals face the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday. “She was a fantastic role model for us, so working on this project with my mother is quite cool.”
Theresa Trotter, Bates’ mother, reared him, his older sister, and younger brother in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Bates’ father was not involved much in their lives, according to Trotter, who typically worked two jobs.
“I remember my mother dumping us off at Grandma’s place because she had to get to work really early in the morning,” Bates said. “You’re taught that the man is the leader of the household, but my mother has always been the head of the household.” She was the one who took care of everything. She was the one who went to work, toiled, and paid the expenses.”
Trotter took on the burden of getting Bates to his practices and activities, from Pop Warner football to little league baseball and basketball, despite heavy work hours and minimal personal time with her children.
“My mom picks me up from school, takes me to practice, and finds time to cook dinner,” Bates explained. “She’d have a full day ahead of her, but I’m grateful she found the time to include me in so many activities.”
Trotter’s dual duty also meant that when he was in fifth grade, she accompanied him to his first NFL game. It was a glimpse into his future.
“It’s funny how things have come full circle with me being drafted by the Bengals,” said Bates, who saw the Bengals play the Baltimore Ravens in his first game as a fan. “My mother is a football enthusiast, so she knew which game to attend because I was a Ray Lewis fan.” Our bond is made much more precious because I have a connection with my mother.”
When Bates’ future Snider High School football coach visited his family before his freshman season, the closeness between mother and son was clear. Coach Kurt Tippmann made house calls to introduce himself to families whose sons wanted to play football for the high school.
“That was my first interaction with his mother, and she was probably working two jobs,” Tippmann said, adding that she was “on top of her son’s academics.” “And she made it obvious that she would keep an eye on his grades.” She has always been helpful over the years.”
Tippmann didn’t take long to see Bates’ early desire to help others in need.
‘We didn’t teach him to be compassionate. When he arrived, he had that, and it was all due to his mother’s upbringing.’
Bates’ high school had a working relationship with various groups that required volunteers at the time. Erin’s House, for example, gladly accepted the football team’s assistance once a month.
According to Tippmann, Bates participated despite not being urged to do so.
Tippmann stated, “You can detect the influence parents have on a kid.” “We didn’t train him to be kind.” When he arrived, he had that, and it was all due to his mother’s upbringing.”
Trotter’s influence lingered with Bates both on and off the field as he developed into one of the best players in the state and one of Snider High School’s all-time greats. Rod Woodson, an NFL Hall of Famer, and Vaughn Dunbar, a former NFL running back, are both parts of the history.
“Jessie isn’t some freak athlete who is better than everyone he plays against; he worked his tail off, and that comes from his mother,” Tippmann said. “It was her example that he learned from as a child, and it’s been his key to success throughout his college and NFL careers.”
Bates, who turns 25 in February, was a freshman All-American at Wake Forest and garnered All-ACC honors. In 2018, the Bengals selected him in the second round, and he has since evolved into one of the best safeties in the league. Last week’s AFC divisional-round playoff game against the Tennessee Titans began with his interception, which set the tone for the Bengals’ ultimate victory.
Bates, on the other hand, stays focused on families dealing with issues comparable to those he faced as a child. According to a Census Bureau population census released in April 2021, the number of children living with only their mother has more than doubled since 1968, reaching around 15.3 million in 2020.
“A lot of individuals may use being raised by a single parent as an excuse to get into trouble or hang around with the wrong crowd just because Pop wasn’t there,” Bates said, adding that he and his father, Jessie Bates II, have subsequently formed a deeper relationship. “However, my mother did an outstanding job by leading by example. Who else was going to do it [raise me] if she didn’t?”
RISE Sports Advisors, a management consulting business, assisted Bates in forming a partnership with UpSpring and Bigger Than Sneakers, a mentorship, and youth-focused community organization. In 2019, Bates took part in a shopping spree with homeless children. He arranged for three families to be picked up in a limousine for bowling and pizza last month.
“My kids were ecstatic since we’d never been in a limousine before,” Block added. “It was wonderful to be able to enjoy it in the midst of all of our agony and suffering, and with all of us struggling with COVID.” My kids were motivated by seeing me smile and forget about everything else for that short period of time, and they now have hope.”
After bowling and dinner the next day, Bates welcomed the families in his suite at Paul Brown Stadium during the Bengals’ game against the 49ers. The day wasn’t great – the Bengals lost in overtime — but his visit to the Bengals’ suite after the game altered Bates’ thinking.
“We lost, and I’m upset as I walk up to the suite after the game,” he stated. “When I came in, those kids were ecstatic to be there, and it was quite humbling.”
While Bates was on the field, his mother had the opportunity to speak with many mothers about their struggles. It also provided her with an opportunity to share her experiences.
Trotter described her role in her son’s endeavor as “listening and encouraging.” “I’m available to answer any inquiries about my life and to listen to anyone who wants to share their experience.”
Bates gave the families Christmas gifts, but he wants his group to be more than just a gift-giving organization. Bates and his mother have ideas for the effort, which may include providing financial literacy to single mothers and possibly sponsoring children’s sporting activities.
“Hopefully, when I receive the bag [a bigger contract], it’ll help enhance things,” Bates, who is in the final year of his rookie deal, said. “So that could include sponsoring a scholarship, assisting moms in completing their education, or assisting their children in attending school.” There’s a lot of things I want to do with this initiative.”
Bates’ devotion to single mothers has left an unforgettable effect till then, at least for the time being.
“This event was the nicest set of memories my children and I have had over the last two years,” said Block. “We’re always hunting for No. 30 when we watch Bengals games.” His kindness had an impact on me and my family. He’s a superstar for us.”
Branson Wright is a filmmaker and freelance multimedia sports reporter.