Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS - All across the nation, families celebrated Father's Day, but for some the day is bittersweet. Eyewitness News sat down with one family who is part of the Saints family as they honored the life of a great football player and a great father.
"The first thing I asked Trey was, 'What do you want to do for your father? It's Father's Day. What do you want to do?'" said Trey's mother Toni Charles. "He said he wanted to bake him a cake. It's bittersweet. I wish he were here."
Unlike other young boys, 10-year-old Trey Hand is growing up without his father, who died from a massive heart attack when Trey was just six-years-old.
"He was larger than life obviously, even with his size. He loved his children immensely. He tried to spend as much time with them, especially the last year of his life," said Charles.
Trey's father, Norman Hand, is best known for his size and skill on the football field. For two years he played nose guard for the New Orleans Saints, but at age of 33 he was diagnosed with heart disease, and at 37 he died of a massive heart attack. Now his son Trey only has the memories he shared with his dad.
"When I was waking up he usually called me every morning before I'd go to school and wish me a happy day," said Trey Hand.
Now Trey wants to follow in his father's footsteps and one day become a football player. Yet, for Charles, raising a son as a single mother, the road has been tough.
"It's hard because one year they had a game and they had to bring out the fathers to pitch too and he didn't have his dad to pitch to him," said Charles.
That is why Trey is now a part of the Son of a Saint Foundation program, which mentors fatherless boys.
"It is probably the single most important thing in a child's life, male or female." said Charles.
For the founder of the program, Bivian "Sonny" Lee, Trey's story hits close to home.
"I know what he is going through. Our fathers passed away from heart attacks, his at 37 mine at 36," said Lee. "They both played for the Saints. He's a mama's boy, I'm a mama's boy."
Just as Trey's cake was made with love and care, so are the memories he holds on to.
For Trey his father died because of health problems. But Lee said for most young boys in the Son of a Saint Foundation, violence is the reason many boys Trey's age are fatherless on Father's Day.