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NY Post
New York Post
5 Aug 2023

NextImg:Giants’ Parris Campbell opens up about son’s ‘tramatic birth’, LeBron Jame’s influence

New Giants receiver Parris Campbell has caught some bad breaks on and off the field on his path to Big Blue. He huddles with Post columnist Steve Serby for Q&A.

Q: Tell me about your son Kai and what he has had to overcome.

A: His traumatic birth, it was crazy, it was insane. Something that me and my wife Taylor couldn’t have imagined our first child being born. When he was born, he wasn’t breathing, like he had no oxygen. And he had went so long with no oxygen to his brain. … It’s a disorder called HIE. It’s basically when a baby’s born and they have zero oxygen to their brain for a certain amount of time. So they end up doing scans on his brain and stuff. He had to be resuscitated, obviously, to be able to start breathing. … Found blood on his brain, and they told us that once they found all that stuff out, they told us that he would have cerebral palsy, he wouldn’t be able to walk, probably wouldn’t be able to talk until later in life. … He was gonna deal with all these complications. … You see my son now, you would never thought anything was wrong with him. He’s perfectly fine, he’s by far the smartest kid I’ve ever met. He grasps information like no other. Shoot, he teaches me things, he knows more stuff than me sometimes. It’s crazy to think that was five years ago, he turned 5 in May. Man, he gives me so much motivation that he doesn’t even know. I always think like when things get rough for me or things get hard for me, I’m like, “Dude, my newborn son was going through this, this and this. And he made it out on the other side.”

Q: He’s like a miracle baby.

A: After they found all that stuff, and found the blood on his brain and stuff like that, he actually had to be transported from … he was born at Ohio State Hospital [and] he had to be transferred to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus [Ohio]. We had to leave my wife there, ’cause she just delivered a baby, they wouldn’t let her leave, she had to like stay for a couple of nights. They ended up speeding up the process, let her coming over that night. So I had to go with him on an ambulance transport to the other hospital. We get out, go up to the rooms, and we walk into this room, and I kid you not, it’s probably 15 doctors in there. I’m 20 years old at the time, my senior year in college, about to start training camp in a couple of months. It literally felt like I was in a movie. … So the head doctor, he comes up to me, and he’s kind of explaining all the stuff I was talking about and what they found and all this stuff. And he presented me options. He was like, “We can either do nothing and monitor his brain activity, and see what this blood on his brain does, see if it like fizzles out or goes away or if it continues to grow. We can just wait it out.” … And then the other option was … basically it’s like a cooling process where they put him in an incubator and they put a cooling mat underneath him. And basically, they get his body temperature down to where he’s like a couple of degrees above almost like hypothermia. But he was like the only thing is there is a risk that if we do the cooling process, that his body temperature gets too low and then he has more complications, and then there’s a chance that he couldn’t make it.

Q: How old was he?

A: He was a day old, I kid you not. I was there by myself, my wife wasn’t there. So I called her on the phone: “This is what they’re presenting me. We can do this or we can do this.” She kept it straightforward with me, she was like, “Parris, I can’t make the decision, I’m not the one talking to the doctor.” She was like, “You have to make a decision for him.” And I was just like, “Whoa! I have to make this choice by myself.” And my mom was actually there with me, and she said the same thing, she’s like, “Parris, you’re his father. No one else can make the decision for you. You gotta make a decision.” … And I just started crying. To the point where I was like kind of just shaking. I didn’t know what to do. … My son was a day old, and I had to make a decision whether if he was possibly gonna get to live or he was possibly not gonna make it. … I decided to go through that cooling process. They had to do it for three days. He was in the Intensive Care Unit. Those three days, it was scary. I’m looking at him in the incubator and you could tell that he’s just freezing. He’s shaking. … I’m feeling awful ’cause I’m like I don’t know where this is gonna lead to. Anytime like a light went off or something was like dinging on his monitors and stuff, I would freak out, ’cause I’m like, “Yo, what does that mean?” I was just so on edge during the time. … ’Cause I was just like “Man, if we go through this and he doesn’t make it, I’m gonna feel like it’s my fault.”

Q: Did you and your wife sleep there?

A: Yeah, we slept there. ’Cause she hadn’t seen her son.

Q: What was her reaction when she saw him?

A: She was in tears. Obviously tears of joy because she finally got to see him, but also tears like, “I have no idea what’s going on.” The doctors were coming in filling her in, she’s just balling. We didn’t hold him until I want to say he was like 6 or 7 days old.

Q: Is he a Giants fan now?

A: He is a Giants fan (smile).

Parris Campell makes a catch during Giants training camp.
Robert Sabo for NY Post

Q: He’s got your No. 0 jersey?

A: Yeah, absolutely (smile). And it’s crazy though, because before free agency started, he had this crazy obsession with New York City. Like just randomly. I kid you not. He was watching the movie “Pets,” it’s based in New York City. The first intro song that comes on is like “Welcome to New York,” and he was obsessed with that. And I remember him at his school in Indiana he was telling all his friends, “Yeah, I’m gonna go live in New York.” Two months late, here we are (laugh).

Q: Describe your mother’s battle with lupus.

A: It was tough for me because I had never seen her go through anything like that. It got real bad when I was in high school. She never missed a game. I remember her being in the hospital one game, I had a game in Canton versus Thurgood Marshall, and I remember being so upset ’cause I knew that she wasn’t gonna be able to make it ’cause she was in the hospital. And I remember going out to warm-ups looking up in the stands and she was there. No matter what she was going through, she was gonna be there for me.

Q: How is she now?

A: She has flare-ups from time to time, but she’s good.

Q: How far from the Hall of Fame in Canton did you grow up?

A: About 20 minutes.

Q: Did you go visit?

A: All the time. I was playing peewee football on the other side of Akron, Ohio. We would go in the middle of the season, just go for a trip, and I would see all the different memorabilia and all my favorite players. I’ve been numerous times.

Q: What stuck out to you?

A: So growing up, I played running back through high school until I got to college [Ohio State]. So LaDainian Tomlinson was a big, big, big, big player for me. I loved watching him. And then as I got older, going into high school, it was Chris Johnson for me. Going to the Canton Hall of Fame and seeing their cleats and their jerseys in there, that was huge for me.

Q: What else stood out for you?

A: Another thing that stood out for me was everyone’s bust. … It was something that like, “I want to get there one day, I want to get to the NFL one day.” So going there just always kept my dream in the NFL alive.

Q: What made Darrelle Revis special?

A: Anytime the entire world is saying Revis Island (laugh), I mean, I think that speaks for itself.

Q: LeBron James was a big influence for you?

A: Obviously, growing up in Akron, Ohio, him being who he was, from our city, it was crazy for us because no one had ever did anything from our city that major, that big. And then the fact that he comes back and he shows love and he shows support, it’s always continuing. He like never forgets where he comes from or the people around there.

Q: He practiced with your high school team during the 2011 NBA lockout?

A: That was insane! ’Cause we were already on the field. A couple of guys knew that he was coming through, so like I knew ’cause I was one of the captains. So we’re on the field just warming up, whatever, and then we just see this big old dude come out of the locker room, shoulder pads on, carrying a helmet, and everybody’s looking there like, “Who’s this, who’s this?” And he walks on the field, man, and he was in like 7-on-7 drills, like team drills, running routes, and it was insane. Like he was plucking the ball out of the air, running routes. He could play football for a living if he wanted to, 100 percent. It was cool for us to see. This was one of the best NBA players, he’s coming to practice with his high school football team. That’s unheard of.

Q: Describe the first time you met him.

A: I want to say it was at one of his games. I had got tickets to the Cavs game, and somehow, I don’t necessarily remember how it happened, but I ended up going back by the locker rooms, and I remember him calling my name out. It was kind of surreal for me. Obviously I knew him, I’ve seen him before in Akron like all the time, but kind of putting two and two together that he knew who I was was cool for me. I just remember being elated like the whoooole day, whole night, and I think later that day he ended up following me on Instagram or something like that.

Parris Campbell
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Q: You were in high school?

A: I want to say I was a sophomore in high school.

Q: What was your reaction when he made “The Decision” on television in 2010 to leave the Cavaliers?

A: I was hurt, I was hurt. Obviously he didn’t owe anyone anything from the city. But it was just crazy to see how it all went down. I feel like people from Akron … not felt like he turned on us or anything, but it was just like, “This is our guy, he played for the Ohio hometown team,” and I think people were just more so sad to see him go, you know what I mean? I was to the point like obviously I ended up getting over him leaving, I was just like, “Look, wherever LeBron goes, I go.”

Q: How about when he came back and won a title in Cleveland?

A: That was definitely a memorable moment for the city.

Q: You had 63 catches last year. Tell me why you believe the best is yet to come for Parris Campbell.

A: Everyone knows the Colts’ record (4-12-1) last year. It was just bad. And I feel like being able to eclipse that when things are going wrong and bad, just imagine when I’m in a good system and things are going well.

Q: Is this is a receiver-friendly offense for the Giants?

A: Oh, absolutely. Every offensive play, every route we have, there’s just so many options, based off leverage of the defender, based off coverage. It’s a lot of just leeway and you’re able to really just be yourself. … They don’t have you out there like robots.

Q: How are you like Curtis Samuel or Percy Harvin?

A: I just think the explosiveness, like when the ball is in our hand, being able to make plays. Obviously running routes and getting open, all that stuff, but when the ball is in your hand, being able to transition to a runner, and being able to see the field differently, being able to make cuts, be explosive.

Q: How did you get through your season-ending knee injury at the beginning of your second season in 2020?

A: A lot of praying. I’m big on my faith. I stand strong on that. My family was in my corner like no other. It’s like some days, when you’re at a low point, you don’t want to talk to anyone. But no matter how I was feeling, no matter if how I was kind of being not necessarily a bad person but just a person that just didn’t want to talk or kind of just shoo ’em away, they just never left, they always made sure they were checking on me and giving me that support, so thankful for them.

Q: When did you grow a beard?

A: I was growing it in college. Actually I could grow facial hair in high school, but I went to a Catholic high school and we had to shave. So I really think that’s why my beard is to where it is now, ’cause I always had to shave.

Q: You look like James Harden.

A: I get that a lot (laugh).

Q: Three dinner guests?

A: Chris Johnson, Michael Jordan, LeBron.

Q: Favorite movie?

Parris Campbell.
USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

A: “Next Friday.”

Q: Favorite actor?

A: Denzel [Washington].

Q: Favorite meal?

A: Lasagna.

Q: Personal goals?

A: With me being in this new environment with this new opportunity, obviously my goal is always to be healthy for all 17 games. We’re guaranteed 17 games, and I want to be fully healthy for every single one. But I really told myself to just come in and be the best version of Parris Campbell. I just hold myself to that each and every day, and I feel like if I do that, then everything else will take care of itself.

Q: What would be a good movie title for your career?

A: (Laugh) Man … it’d be something like “Highs and Lows.” … We don’t know the ending to the movie yet, but hopefully there’s some more highs down the road.