Four-time NBA champion Draymond Green had more free time than he’s used to during the NBA playoffs as his Golden State Warriors were eliminated in the second round. However, there is a silver lining: lots of family time with his children.
“I don’t really have any hobbies, man,” Green told Andscape. “I spend a lot of time with my family and my kids. It teaches you a lot about yourself when you deal with the kids. You know what I learned dealing with my kids? When you deal with them, you learn: “Oh, s—, I do. I need to do it differently because they get that too.” And then spending a lot of time with my children has taught me so much about myself.”
Green has two biological children in Draymond Jamal Jr. and Kyla Green. The four-time NBA All-Star, who is married to actress Hazel Renee, also has a stepdaughter, Olive. The 2017 NBA Defensive Player of the Year is known to bring his children to the practice facility at the Chase Center after games and to his postgame press conference. Draymond Jr. has also been a Warriors ball boy. Draymond Green previously thanked the Warriors and the NBA for the “special” opportunity to involve his children at work.
As Father’s Day arrived on Sunday, Green spoke exclusively with Andscape in the following Q&A about the importance of being a present dad, the challenges of fatherhood as an NBA player, his relationship with his father and stepdaughter’s father, and more.
How much time do you get to spend with your kids during the season?
As much time as I can. I hand in a lot at school. You want the 30 minutes over the Bay Bridge. It is meaningful time. So I try to do as many of those trips as I can. When you get home, lock in with them. Spend that time with them. Because No. 1, they need it.
You said you learned about yourself through your children. Can you explain?
My temperament. How I react to things. How things bother me. How to be bothered by something, how to deal with it. How to work through things because what you end up doing is you’ll see something with them and you’re like, ‘Yo, do like this, like this, like this, like this’. And what you’re really teaching them is how to work through things.
We must all continue to improve ourselves and work through situations. So for me, working with problems has been a really big thing that my kids and my wife have taught me. It’s been fantastic.
What is your relationship with your father?
I grew up with a father. I’m not someone who didn’t grow up with a father. I had some events that happened in my life that kind of shook it up for me. Let’s say age 12 or 13. But I wouldn’t ignore guys who didn’t grow up with a father or husband in their life. After 12 I lived in the house with my mother. Just her. But I grew up with a father, my grandfather, uncles. I grew up with some great men in my life.
What did those men teach you that sticks with you now?
Responsibility. Just seeing how they operated and took responsibility for things that didn’t necessarily go their way. And never fold under any situation. Take responsibility. Stand up to whatever that situation is and you’ll figure it out. Good, bad or indifferent. Stand up to that s—. Own it. Stand on it. And for me, my mother too. She stands by whatever it is you say you did, stand by it.
How is your relationship with your father now?
It is okay. So that’s good. For me, I think it’s something that will always improve and get better. But I have no complaints.
What is the difference between raising a son and daughters?
Oh man. It is completely different. This is how you accept things. How you learn them. Trying to teach a girl to be independent, yet not so independent where they don’t know how to work with someone. Independent to the point where they don’t need me anymore. Finding that balance. I try to teach my son how to: ‘Boy, you have to stand on your own two feet in everything you do.’ In the end knowing that I got your back no matter what. But you must stand on your own two feet, because this world will force you as a man to stand on your own two feet. And for me, the life my children are growing up scares me.
Because, man. I understand… I understand what Saginaw, Michigan did for me. I get it and they don’t. And understand it, and the things it did for me, and how it affected me, and the things it taught me. Where are they going to get it from? Because they don’t get it in their everyday life. And then I just try to instill different lessons and toughness that I grew up with.
Honestly, my son doesn’t need to have that kind of toughness. But you have to have mental toughness. You have to go through some s—. And you try to let them go through things and not just jump away, but still show support, but also understand, you have to figure it out. Whatever the situation is, you have to work through it, because again, where else are you going to get it?
Your son sometimes serves as guest ball boy, hangs out in the locker room and goes to practice. What is that experience like for him?
It’s the best. No. 1, so that he can see the environment and understand it. You probably see my son a lot because when he is with me he is extremely absorbed in it. But you don’t see him very much either because he’s only with me half the time. I wish he was with me all the time, but it just didn’t work out that way. When he’s with me I try to pour everything into him and let him be a part of everything because he only gets it half the time and that’s unfortunate.
How does he have the maturity to be a ball boy for games at 6 years old?
He does things before the game and he does things after the game. He really enjoys it. And I let him do his own thing in there too, not try to monitor every little thing he does. If he wants to do that thing, go ahead. Because for me, most importantly, it is his presence. You must have a presence. And when you walk in here, people have to feel you. When you’re in the room, people need to feel it. And so for me, I never try to stop him from doing anything. Obviously, if you see him doing something wrong, you want to correct him. But mostly, I don’t want him to enter an environment that shrinks.
I don’t give one [expletive] whatever environment you’re in, you stand up, you stick your chest out and you walk through there like you own the place. Because if you shrink in this room, you will shrink in the next. I don’t care who’s in that room. You went in there, you saw in there, you stay, you keep your chest up and you keep pushing.
Does he already understand that at his age?
One hundred percent. He walks in like he owns the place. And I love that. I love it. Because again, you can be very intimidated by this environment. He’s a kid, he goes to school and kids talk about Steph Curry, kids talk about Draymond Green, kids talk about Klay Thompson. You can be scared by that.
Nah, dude. Don’t be intimidated in any room you walk into. You walk into that room, you hold your head up, you stick your chest out and you leave. Wherever you’re going. Go. That’s what I’m trying to teach him.
Are you teaching your daughters the same lesson?
You definitely try to give them some of that. But my wife is good at it. I can’t teach them to be in the room. I understand that. But my wife can and she does a great job. And I know when she walks into the room. So I know she teaches them.
You have a son from a previous relationship, your wife has a daughter from a previous relationship. How did you find that kind of bond with each other’s children?
We love them as if they were your own. And that’s how it’s been since day 1, when you accept someone with a child. I hope you don’t really accept someone who won’t accept your child. And you can’t accept them if you won’t accept what comes with them. And so for me, I was raised that way. And it’s such a special thing, you build such special bonds.
The way I always approach it is that I will always treat and love that child the same way I would want someone to treat and love my child. There is no difference in the love I show her. There is no difference in the lessons I teach her, they are all the same. They’re all going to get that love no matter what… Don’t get me wrong. Her father is incredible. He is great and we have a great relationship. I wish more people could be like that. So many times you see it and it’s an ugly man. And it doesn’t have to be that way. I lived that. And it doesn’t have to be that way. It doesn’t have to be that way.
I am very grateful for the relationship and being able to really pour into her. Because in the end, you pour as much as you can. But when you’re fighting somebody on the other side, it’s brutal, man. So the fact is that I can openly pour into her without words, without disdain from her father, man. It is one of the most special things I have in my life. Because it’s not normal. We see it the opposite way, far more than we should. And it’s sad. It’s sad because ultimately it affects everyone and the children. Most importantly, the child. [It] affects them the most. So I have a huge, huge, huge appreciation for that.
When you’re locked in during the playoffs, how do you still lock in when you’re off with them?
You give it time and focus. But it can be some late hours, and maybe some early mornings, that you have to commit to what we do here. But at the same time, I still want to be there and still pour into them. So maybe it’s late hours at that time. You just find the times you can do it. I give everything I have to give to this game. And the hours are not that long. It is what it is. But I won’t make them sacrifice their father because I’m on a mission. No, that’s my mission and that’s my mission. And how do I get them both to work?