PARENTS
06/16/2019 19:49 EDT

Toronto Raptors Celebrate Father's Day

After winning the NBA championship, the dads on the team headed home for a different kind of celebration.

Gregory Shamus via Getty Images
Kyle Lowry celebrates with his sons, Kameron and Karter, after defeating the Milwaukee Bucks 100-94 in Game 6 of the NBA's Eastern Conference finals on May 25.

Most of the Toronto Raptors arrived home Sunday after a weekend spent partying in Las Vegas that came as a natural result of Thursday’s historic NBA championship win.

They’re back for Monday’s parade, but for many of the players, Sunday marks another kind of celebration: Father’s Day.

As the team’s mascot pointed out in a grammatically incorrect tweet, there are, in fact, a lot of Raptors dads out there.

Kyle Lowry

Lowry’s sons, seven-year-old Karter and three-year-old Kameron, are all over his Instagram, and they’re ridiculously adorable. 

In the spring, Lowry told Sportsnet he customized his van and hired a chauffeur so that he could give his kids his full attention in the car.

His boys factored into his decision to stay with the Raptors in 2017, too. In an essay called “Home” that he wrote for the Players’ Tribune, he said his older son was thrilled to be staying in Toronto.

“When I saw Karter’s reaction, that’s how I knew for sure this was right,” he wrote. “If we’d left … It would have been about truly leaving — leaving his friends, leaving his school, leaving this city that he’s grown attached to.”

He’s also brought his dad skills to his game. When he got shoved by a spectator during the Raptors’ third game of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, he said he kept his composure to set a good example for his children. 

“Being a father has helped me as a basketball player,” he told Sportsnet. The patience, the understanding, not holding on to things. You can’t hang on to things when you got kids.

“You can be mad at them one second, give them a little tap and a half-second later you’re hugging them, kissing them. Fathers all over the world know that.”

Marc Gasol

At the news conference the Raptors held on Sunday afternoon, Gasol certainly seemed happy to be reunited with family. His four-year-old daughter, Julia, sat in the front row, and hurried to jump on the dais and hold his hand as soon as he stood up to leave.

Chris Young/The Canadian Press
After Marc Gasol was finished speaking to reporters on Sunday, his daughter, Julia, jumped up on the stage to join him.
Chris Young/The Canadian Press
The two held hands as they walked out together.

Gasol also spoke about how excited he was so spend quality time with his wife and daughter now the the season is over. Now he can “actually be with them,” he said, “not be with them, but your mind is somewhere else.”

During the playoffs, he said he always felt like he should be practicing or watching footage to look for mistakes or ways to improve. “You try to be there, but you’re not really there,” he said.

When a reporter asked him how Julia felt about her father’s shiny new NBA championship trophy, Gasol said she liked it. The team had received a silver trophy when they won the Eastern Conference finals, but he said she thought the gold was pretty exciting.

“She was happy that we had one of each,” he said.

Fred VanVleet

It’s entirely possible that VanVleet’s baby, nearly one-month-old Fred Jr., is responsible for this whole thing. The point guard, who hadn’t had a particularly strong playoffs run until mid-May, suddenly rocketed the Raptors to victory with a stellar shooting performance after his baby was born.

“Still not giving him all the credit in the world,” VanVleet said at a news conference just days after the baby’s birth. “But he’s probably helped me out a little bit.”

Also, the day before his daughter Sanaa was born in January 2018, VanVleet scored a career-high 25 points in a game against the Lakers.

Maybe he should just continue to have more kids?

At the Sunday news conference, he made it clear he was glad to be in Toronto. “Just to be back home for Father’s Day with the babies is good,” he said. “I’m on a pretty big high right now.”

And for good measure, here’s a video of Sanaa testing out the mics at her dad’s media scrum earlier this year. The Golden State Warriors aren’t the only ones with cute kids who take over news conferences!

Kawhi Leonard

The notoriously private star player hasn’t spoken much about his personal life, but he and his girlfriend Kishele Shipley have a three-year-old daughter, and several reports suggest that they had another baby, a son, earlier this year.

In 2016, ESPN got the tight-lipped Leonard to comment on his daughter’s birth. “It’s just a great feeling, once you have a child,” he said.

He hasn’t spoken publicly about his second child, reported to be born in Toronto in March, but other players have made reference to his kids, plural.

One thing we can speculate about Leonard that definitely feels true is that he is probably very, very good at keeping calm when his children have tantrums.

Serge Ibaka

Ibaka, who grew up in Congo but left at age 17, didn’t know that he had fathered a child there until three years ago, when he met his then-10-year-old daughter, Ranie.

Even though it was unexpected, he’s fully embraced fatherhood. His daughter moved to the U.S. to live with him when he played with Oklahoma City Thunder after he and her mother decided she could get a better education there. She moved with her dad to Florida when he got traded to Orlando Magic. As of 2017, she was still there, although she has come often to visit Ibaka in Toronto.

“It’s a dream to me, to be a father,” Ibaka told The Undefeated. “Since I was young, I always dreamed of myself traveling, envisioned at least three, four kids, five. And then, I’m living my dream right now and something I always love to do, and it’s fun. It’s really changed my life. It’s changed everything about me. The way I think and the way I live my life. It changed everything.”

He celebrated his first Father’s Day with Ranie in 2017. “I don’t know what a father does on Father’s Day,” he told The Undefeated. “I don’t know what actually I have to do, but I’m just going to learn it. But I’m sure she knows already. She’s going to tell me.”

Now that the Raptors are champions, all the dads on the team get to share their victory with their kids. In the Sportsnet article from earlier this year, Lowry talked about wanting to one day show his sons an NBA championship trophy. 

“I think if can get a championship sooner or later and they can be there and take pictures with me, holding the trophy, just being around, that would be awesome,” he said.

Wish granted.

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