At Home With Super Bowl Star Willie Parker
Willie Parker is a two-time Super Bowl Champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers and an ESPY Award-winning athlete. Now a coaching intern at Duke University, the North Carolina native has settled into home life in a comfy community in Durham, N.C. He still resides in the first home he ever purchased, nine years ago, and he says it’s the house in which he’ll retire, no matter where his new coaching career takes him. The Super Bowl record-setting running back (he rushed 75 yards in Super Bowl XL, the longest rushing play in Super Bowl history) gave us a tour of his Durham home and explained why his house is all about motivation for the next phase of his career.
Why did you choose Durham, N.C., to call home?
I went to school at UNC (The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and the people were great in this area. I knew that when football was over for me, I wanted to be around nice people, and I wanted to stay close to my university. Also, my whole family lives about 10 minutes from here. I have two nieces and one nephew, and I’m very close to them. I love them to death — it’s like they’re my own little kids.
How much time do you spend at home?
When you’re coaching you have to travel a lot. We had a game on New Year’s Eve [Duke played in the ACC championship game]. I’m an offensive intern, so eventually I want to be at a college running my own running backs. The sacrifice you have to make is being away from home a lot, but that’s just part of the game.
When you go off to another school, will you keep the house here?
I’m definitely going to keep this home, no matter what, because when it’s said and done, this is my home.
You grew up in Clinton, N.C. What is most memorable about that time?
I loved Clinton — the way I grew up, the way I was raised by my parents. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Clinton is a small town with a population of about 10,000, and everybody knows everybody. When I go back now, there are a lot of new families, but if I lived in Clinton, I’d know everyone; it’s one of those towns.
As a southerner, do you come in through the front door or the back door?
I come in through the garage.
Is there anything in your house that you knew you had to have, the minute you saw it?
As soon as I saw the lion picture I have over my bed, I had to have it. I love lions. My walls are pretty spare, though. When I have kids it will be different. Then I’ll put stuff on my walls — I’m kind of saving the walls for them.
But your college diploma is hanging on your office wall…
You’ve got to put stuff like that where you can see it. I got a degree from UNC, and that’s something I never take for granted. I always wanted to graduate from college, for my parents and for myself, so when I graduated I always kept hold of that diploma and said, when I get my home, I have to frame this and hang it up.
Have you actually worn all the sneakers in your closet?
Not the Jordans. I love them. I get all the Jordans that come out. I’ll wear them, sooner or later, before I die.
Do you know how many pairs you have?
No, I don’t.
What’s special about the downstairs?
I’m not normally excited when I talk about things, but I just LOVE downstairs. I love the room displaying my achievements — all the stuff from my time with the Steelers, my first pair of Pro Bowl cleats, my second pair of Pro Bowl cleats, my Super Bowl helmets. I just framed everything. I guess you could say it motivates me. My whole home motivates, reminding me how far I’ve come. When I look around, I see how far I’ve come and how far I want to go in life. I want to go so much further; I don’t want to just live off my achievements up to this point.