Last year, Vikings fullback C.J. Ham surprised his mother Tina with a pair of custom cleats to honor her battle with pancreatic cancer.
It was one of C.J’s many feats in honoring her as the Duluth, Minn., native went on to earn his first Pro Bowl appearance in 2019, treating his family to a getaway to Orlando, where the Pro Bowl was held last year, team reporter Eric Smith wrote.
The Vikings signed Ham to a multi-year contract extension with the Vikings in March, further solidifying his impact and future with the team he grew up watching.
C.J. holds those lasting memories close as Tina passed away in May, ending her battle with cancer at age 57. He will honor her again by unveiling another pair of custom cleats for the Vikings Crucial Catch home game against the Falcons on Sunday.
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‘Wearing These Cleats, It’s Going to Help Me’
Smith detailed a moment when C.J. surprised Tina with his Crucial Catch game cleats from a season ago.
“No, you don’t get to wear them,” C.J. said. “But I get to wear them for you.”
C.J. will likely have Tina in mind while lacing his new white cleats up for the first time on Sunday as he continues to play with her memory.
‘It’s Those Moments That I Really Cherish’
C.J. reminisced on last season which was a breakout year for the 27-year-old in the midst of the trials Tina was facing.
“She truly is the strongest person I know, and I know when I’m wearing these cleats, it’s going to help me,” C.J. said.
Tina repeated how much she loved the cleats.
“But I don’t get to wear them,” she said, laughing.
Here’s what he told Smith:
Looking back on things now, I’ve come to find joy from things in this past year that I was able to experience with her. To sign that contract, and for her to see me really live out my dream, it’s those moments that I really cherish.
I just remember how happy she was, the smiles that she had. I know she felt really special to be there (at the Pro Bowl) with me. Although it’s sad (my mother passed), you have to find joy in the memories and find joy in the good times.
C.J. also had a custom jacket made to memorialize his mother this season.
Here’s a closer look at the making of the jacket.
“Sometimes you feel like the hard times, especially once they are gone, come up to the surface a little more. But as time goes on, you start to cherish and remember the joyful moments, and the smiles and the laughs. Those are the things I try to focus on the most,” C.J. added.
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Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.