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The Baltimore Ravens wide receiver leans on his dad and mom for support
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has made a name for himself with spectacular catches and electrifying plays since stepping onto the NFL gridiron. The football star’s athletic prowess can be traced back to his parents, Heather Van Norman and Odell Beckham Sr.
His mother was a student at Louisiana State University, and she was training for the 1992 Olympic track and field trials when she found out she was pregnant with him, according to CBS Sports. Meanwhile, his father played football at the same university, which made the newborn a fixture on campus; Odell even attended classes with his mom.
“I’m a momma's boy,” he shared in the 2018 docu-series I Am More: OBJ. “My mom worked very, very hard to be able to provide everything for me. [She] put me in the best situation and made sure that I was always taken care of, made sure that I was loved."
Odell Jr added, "There’s nothing that brings me more joy than to see my mom smile. ... I just wanna make my momma proud."
The Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native is equally effusive in his appreciation for his dad.
“This man would give his life just to see me smile, he has made me the man I am today,” he wrote on Instagram. “Works his a-- off just to get me whatever I need. Pops I love u man.”
From supporting their son at the Super Bowl to watching him become a dad, here’s everything to know about Odell Beckham Jr.'s parents, Odell Beckham Sr. and Heather Van Norman.
Heather was a star athlete
Heather was a standout athlete during her college years. After transferring from the University of Minnesota her sophomore year, she was an All-American track sensation at LSU from 1991 to 1993. She led the Lady Tigers to five impressive national championships, helping her team earn two NCAA indoor titles and three back-to-back NCAA outdoor titles.
By the time Heather graduated in 1994, she had racked up six All-American honors and three individual NCAA titles with the relay teams. Since then, she has used her athletic experiences to guide her son on the football field.
“I remember her texting me after games. I had decent games, and she’s texting me – ‘Oh, your form looks great,' " Odell Jr. recalled during the NFL Scouting Combine in 2014, per SB Nation.
He continued, "It’s funny to hear coming from her. She’s a track coach. It’s not like, ‘That’s a nice catch.’ She’s talking about running form."
When asked how his mom would fare in a 40-yard dash contest, Odell Jr. was confident in his mom’s talent. "Probably a 4.2. She's pretty fast," he said.
Odell Sr. was also a football player
Odell Jr. and Sr. share more than a name. The elder of the Beckhams also attended Louisiana State University, where he was a running back on the football team from 1989 to 1992. His career at LSU was marked by his agility, and he became known for his ability to make impactful plays.
Odell Sr.'s journey in football was an integral part of his son's inspiration and subsequent success in the sport, highlighting a legacy of athletic talent within the family. Odell Sr. was particularly proud to see his son carve out a professional football career.
"It's something that has never happened in my family," he said in an interview with The Marshall News Messenger before his son was drafted in 2014. "The chain has been broken and I'm very ecstatic. This is what I wish for as a parent. Parents always want their kids to have more, go further and be better.”
Odell Sr. also credited their faith and community of coaches, counselors and tutors for preparing his son for life in the NFL.
"Everyone from his mother and godmother to his stepfather; it was just an army that swarmed to make sure everything he was doing was the right thing in a respectful manner," he shared.
Odell Jr. has several siblings
In 1996, his stepfather, Derek Mills, competed in the Olympics and won a gold medal as part of the 400-meter relay team.
Heather and Derek share a daughter, Jasmyne Mills. According to her LinkedIn, she's majoring in interior design at Arizona State University and is set to graduate in 2024. Jasmyne is also a member of the Alpha Chi Omega Zeta Pi chapter.
Odell Jr. also has younger siblings on his dad’s side: sons Kordell and Sonny and daughter Summer. Kordell is an aspiring model with more than 60,000 followers on Instagram while Sonny and Summer are growing up watching Odell Jr. play professional football.
Heather and Odell Sr. are grandparents
Just days after Odell Jr. won Super Bowl LVI, he and then-girlfriend Lauren Wood welcomed their first child. Zydn Beckham was born on Feb. 17, 2022, and immediately captured the hearts of his dad and grandparents.
"For the longest time, I always knew I was going to be a father because of the way that I love kids. They're close to my heart," Odell Jr. told PEOPLE in 2022. "It was the biggest blessing of my life. I always knew that it would be, but it really hit different when I was actually holding him."
Heather has loved watching her son develop into a doting dad.
"Being a father has definitely settled him," she told the Baltimore Ravens in an interview. "Zydn is like his light. He's always loved children. But being with Zydn brings out all the goodness in Odell. It's really fun to watch."
Odell Sr. is an entrepreneur
A friendly competition between Odell Sr. and his son turned into a company. Back in 2016, Odell Jr. challenged his dad to a contest to see who could grow the longest beard.
While searching for beard grooming products, Odell Sr. wanted more than what he found on the market, so he created his own luxury beard care brand.
Odell Beckham Brands features beard wash, cream conditioner, oil, styling balm and wax. The company’s marketing and promotion often include Odell Sr.’s famous son.
Heather is a supportive mom
Both parents have consistently supported their son, but Odell Jr. has an especially close bond with his mom.
Heather was in the crowd to see her son win the first Super Bowl of his career when the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in 2022. Odell Jr. scored the first touchdown but could not finish the game because of a knee injury.
Heather heaped praise on the newly-minted Super Bowl champion on Instagram post-game.
“I marvel at your integrity, dedication, adoration for the game ... This moment is a moment that you deserve!" she captioned photos of them together. "It’s a testimony to the blood, sweat, and tears that you have poured into your mind, body, and soul. Continue to shine bright my luv! @obj 💙💛🌟I love you more …. ❤️.”
In a 2014 interview with the New York Post, Odell Jr. talked about his mom’s impact on his life.
“She’ll send me quotes and scriptures just to keep my head on right. She just tries to make sure I stay like I am and just stay humble and putting God first,” he said.
“She’s an amazing woman,” he added. “She’s caring, she’s always keeping my head on straight, she’s a hard worker — definitely one of the best women I’ve ever met in my entire life. I’m so happy just to be able to see her smile and know that I made her proud."
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