Ian Thomsen’s feature on Randy Foye is both heartbreaking and heartwarming, a story about how Foye lost his mother as a child, found her ... and realized what else he had found in his life’s journey.
The story, like most of Foye’s stories begins in Newark, his hometown, where two years after his father died in a motorcycle crash, Foye’s mother disappeared. He was 5.
"I didn’t know what was going on until I was 9 or 10,’’ says Foye. He remembers being told, in the beginning, that she was on vacation. Later, when he was of the age of his eldest daughter now, he learned that his mother had been seen climbing into a van in Newark and that was the last anyone had seen of her.
"She wouldn’t just leave and disappear like that – it had to be foul play,’’ he says of those conversations he used to have. "That’s what I got from my grandmother, that they couldn’t find her and it wasn’t like her. So they was just like, 'Somebody kidnapped her.’’’
As he grew up, became a star first at Newark East Side, then Villanova before beginning an 11-year career (so far) in the NBA, he was surrounded by family and friends who made him feel loved, helped him develop his personality, his life. It drove him.
"I’m in situations, I’m human, I’m always afraid,’’ he says. "I’m afraid of failing, of not living up to what my grandma would expect from me. Or the people who I really love, what they expect from me. I’m afraid of failing because of them. I’m not afraid of failing from a fans’ perspective or anyone who don’t care about me. It was more about disappointing people who put so much trust and work into me. That was my fear.’’
Then, in September came the call from, ironically enough, a government phone in Brooklyn. The authorities believed they had located Regina Foye, his mother. She had died in 1990, when he was a star basketball player in Newark. The cause was an overdose. She had been buried as a “Jane Doe.” Closure, perhaps so, perhaps not, but a milestone.
"Everything I had to endure and go through, it made me who I am today,’’ Foye says quietly from his bench in the locker room, surrounded by Brooklyn Nets teammates as they dress after a recent game. "I wouldn’t change my life. I wouldn’t change any of it. Because it made me a strong person. Made me the husband I am, the father I am. I’m extremely proud of who I have become from the circumstances that I had to go through.’’
The Nets have always thought they got the kind of player they want for their culture, someone who can help with the younger players, like Isaiah Whitehead. He has the experience.