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What Our Young Black Men Need to Succeed

She raised NBA superstar Chris Paul and his big brother C.J., a businessman and philanthropist. Ten principles her family lives by paved the way for parenting success.

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A mother stands in-between her two successful sons.
Sisters Newsletter Illustration/Getty Images
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By Robin Paul as told to by LaShieka Hunter

I have to admit that my journey as a mom has been amazing. And now, as I look at my sons, all grown up with their own families, my husband Charles and I thank God for all of our blessings. We went from shuttling two skinny youngsters to practice, to watching them play college ball, to seeing Chris play in the Olympics and the NBA. We’ve watched C.J. lead and innovate as president of CP3 LLC. Charles and I are proud of the men our sons have become, the obstacles they’ve surmounted, the goals they’ve achieved, the way they love their wives and nurture our grandbabies as dads and uncles. We value how grounded and humble they are despite their successes.

Someone once asked me if we made a lot of sacrifices for our sons. I wouldn’t call them sacrifices. Charles and I just did what we had to do. I’m so thankful to be Chris and C.J.’s mother. As we look back on our amazing journey, our focus on ten values as a family has blessed us immeasurably:

1. Higher power - I grew up in the church. It’s where Charles and I met as kids. We raised our sons to place their faith in God. And with the help of the good Lord, they turned out to be the two successful men they are today.

2. Hearth and home - We made it a point to eat together as a family when Chris and C.J. were young. I grew up in a close-knit family and know the value of that. Even though my sister and I are 12 years apart, we’re very tight. I’m as close to my children and my grandchildren as my sister and I were to our own parents.

3. Home training - My father taught me to always be respectful of others, so it was important for me to make sure my sons grew up with those same morals. I taught them early to treat people the way they want to be treated, to say “please” and “thank you,” “yes, sir” and “yes, ma’am.”

4. Hard work - My father was the first Black man to own a service station in North Carolina, so I made sure my boys understood the value of hard work, too. They both worked at that gas station with their granddad. They can change oil and rotate tires. During the week, Charles and I didn’t allow the boys to play video games, and they had to maintain a 3.0. GPA or we wouldn’t let them play sports. When Chris was drafted by the NBA in 2005, seeing him on that stage at Madison Square Garden and knowing how hard he worked to get there was incredible.

5. Hustle - We always found a way to invest in our sons, even if it meant digging deep and doing without. We put off renovations or buying a new car. We had to take out loans and borrow against our 401(k) so they could play in the Amateur Athletic Union’s travel basketball program.

6. Heart - My husband and I were both raised to give back to our community, and we taught our boys to do the same. So when Chris made it to the NBA, being philanthropic was nothing new; but now we’re able to do it on a higher level through the Chris Paul Family Foundation. I help run the nonprofit with my husband and C.J., and it’s been a rewarding experience. Recently we donated 725 pairs of sneakers to an elementary school in Charlotte, N.C., and arranged for a young boy with cancer to attend one of Chris’ games.

7. Humor - This family loves to laugh. It gets us through good times and bad ones. Facing off against Steph Curry's family on Family Feud still has us cracking up.

8. Healing time - My father was robbed and killed in 2002 by five teenagers. Our whole family was devastated. I’d already lost my mother to lung cancer and now my father was gone. C.J. was in college and Chris had signed with Wake Forest University, so there was a lot going on. It was a rough time, but leaning on faith and each other, we pulled through.

9. Heroes - As a high school senior, Chris could have sat out the game that immediately followed his granddad’s murder. Instead, he suited up and scored 61 points, one for every year that “Papa Chilli” was alive.

10. Hope - During my father’s life, if anyone asked him how he was doing, he’d always say, “I’m blessed and highly favored.” Those were his favorite words. And now they’re mine.