My dear Aubrielle,
There are some things in life that you never expect, but they open you up to this world you know you were meant to be a part of. This is exactly what I felt when I met you for the first time.
It was truly unbelievable.
There you were, not crying at all, with your big eyes looking all around the room. Even at that age, you were taking everything in.
And then, you looked right at me. We locked eyes, and I knew my life would never be the same.
I couldn’t believe how beautiful you were.
The whole experience was so emotional.
It’s hard to put into words what it’s like to see a part of yourself in your arms. It’s still so magical.
Instantly, you changed my life for the better.
Having you has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
Your mother and I are so grateful for the blessing that you are, and I want you to know that soon we’ll all be together again.
I promise you that!
It was a little over two years ago that your mother told me that she was pregnant.
I won’t lie to you AB, I was a little scared at first. Being a dad is a lot of responsibility and not something I take lightly. Plus, I was also trying to balance basketball and school.
I never doubted your worth, but I had to get my priorities straight.
It was time for me to mature. You and your mom are my top priorities, period. So, I knew to set you two up for the best future possible, I needed to dedicate myself to school and basketball.
You see, your daddy’s dream is to play in the NBA one day. And he will!
And your entire family has always supported me in this endeavor, and encouraged me to keep pursuing it.
We’re all very fortunate to have them on our side.
John Petty Jr. poses with his mother, Regena.
I didn’t know much about babies before you came along. But I’ve embraced and learned how to be your dad.
And you made it so easy to instantly connect with you, even when you couldn’t talk.
Maybe it’s because I see so much of me in you.
My mama, your grandma, sometimes laughs when you do something.
She just says, “You used to do the same thing when you were a baby.“
See, you and I are the same.
We both have that same look, ya know? When it’s time for business, we are dialed in. I see that look in your eyes, and we know you are serious.
It’s the same for me. Ask my teammates. I’m the funniest guy outside the court, but when I get in the game, I’m locked in. I see that same personality in you.
I could talk forever about what makes you special. You’re smart, intelligent, funny. In everything you do, I see that you are your daddy’s girl.
That’s why it pains me so much to be so far away from you and your mom…
Being two hours away has been so hard on me, and I know it’s also been difficult for you.
It’s great to Facetime, but it’s not the same. I miss holding you each and every day.
I remember one night when we were on the phone and you said something to me that still makes me emotional, “Daddy, are you gonna come see me?“
When you said that, I had to put the phone down for a sec. It was so hard to hear, but it shows me just how much you love me.
And knowing that is what keeps me going. Everything I do, I do for you and mommy. You know that, right?
You’re the first thing I think of every day. For real. I have pictures of us hanging all around my apartment. They’re reminders of why I do what I do, and it gives me the motivation to get through the day.
And when I get to see you at our home games, AB, it’s like the best thing in the world. Having you and your mom and all your other family members come down here and watch me play means everything to me.
One of the things I love most is that I get to be your role model. That’s what a dad does.
He is there for his daughter at all times. Tells her when she’s right. Disciplines her when she’s wrong. In all things, he has her back. I take a lot of pride in being that for you.
AB, I want you to know that you are loved more than anything else. I understand that being so far apart is difficult. For all of us.
But that’ll change.
We’ll all be together very soon, and that’s going to last.
We’re gonna make that next jump to the NBA together. No question. When I look at the bigger picture, I see us all in it, and I can’t wait.
Aubrielle, you’re now a part of who I am. You made me a whole different person. I’m not just an athlete or a student anymore. I’m your father. That’s something that will never change.
You’re the best thing that has ever happened to me. Don’t ever forget that.