TEMPE, Ariz. When Missy Murray looks at her son Kyler, she doesn’t just see the 23-year-old Arizona Cardinals quarterback, or the boy who wanted to play Uno after big wins, or the kid who is color-coded his toys.
She sees her father, Master Sgt.Carl W. Henderson Jr.
Kyler never met his grandfather, who died in 1989 after serving more than 35 years in the Navy and the Army, but Missy kept Henderson’s legacy alive through stories and memories – many memories – that she was her father in Kyler sees.
“Kyler is so much like my dad that sometimes I just do a 360 because he says things like my dad, he talks like my dad,” said Missy.
“It just blows my mind that I tell Kyler all the time, I say, ‘You’re not my father’ because he speaks the same way as he does, his personality, it’s just amazing.”
On Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams, Kyler honored his grandfather with a pair of custom-made Nike cleats that supported the Call of Duty Endowment – a charity founded by the popular video game that “helps veterans get high quality after their military service.” To secure jobs “. – during Arizona’s game My Cause, My Cleats. Designed by Dominic Ciambrone aka “The Shoe Surgeon,” the studs paid tribute to Henderson’s military service by painting them a variety of shades of purple, including purple camouflage, in recognition of the Purple Heart awarded to Henderson.
The shoes also represented a connection between a grandson, his mother and his grandfather.
The back of the left shoe reads “Best Friend” and the back of the right shoe reads “Grandfather,” both in Korean, a nod to Missy’s Korean heritage – her mother was Korean, which makes Kyler a quarter Korean – and the bond between mother and son.
“I’m just trying to soak up everything she tells me about him,” said Kyler. “Of course we don’t talk about him and things like that every day, but when she sees something in me that he would say or do, she always lets me know.”
And Kyler does a lot to remind Missy of her father.
The two share a behavior, an attitude towards life, a passion for board games, an obligation to self-discipline, a thirst for knowledge and the presence of the mind to ponder before acting.
“She says we’re one and the same,” said Kyler. “She said he and me are anal about things. Like things in a certain way. Very strict about certain things. I’m not as strict as him, obviously he’s a parent, has two daughters, I can only imagine.”
Missy described Kyler as an “undercover nerd” – a trait he gets from his grandfather.
Around the time she was 6 and 7, Missy was playing Scrabble twice a week with her father, who made it a teaching aid. He would play words his kids had never heard of – especially three letter words – and he would suggest that they challenge him so he can read them the definitions.
“My dad was about learning new words, reading, just being able to speak and articulate intelligently and eloquently,” said Missy. “I think it was all passed down to generations because you look at Kyler in an interview, you think he has done it all his life. It drives me crazy that he is so calm. But that’s because he is thinking before he speaks. “
Like his grandfather, Kyler enjoys board games. Always has, especially chess. When he came home after big wins when he was younger, it took Kyler about half an hour to get over the excitement and ask his mom to play Uno.
“I like doing these things,” said Kyler. “You don’t see many children anymore who sit down and just enjoy board games and the like.”
Kyler always had her balance, said Missy. It never gets too high or too low. And he also inherited his grandfather’s military discipline, both in terms of his approach to football and how to get off the field. He was always alert when it came to following instructions, but he was also giving instructions like a drill sergeant, Missy said.
And Kyler pays close attention to details, Missy said. As a kid, he sorted his toys by color, and growing up he color-coded “everything,” she said.
“I keep telling people my dad was such a perfectionist,” said Missy. “I’m not sure my brother and me passed the bar, but if he were alive today, Kyler would be the prototype kid my dad would have wanted to raise for doing everything right. He never goes left. He goes to the right. “”
And just like his grandfather, who went to the family encyclopedia to either prove his point or show his kids where he came from, Kyler does some research too.
When his parents started giving Kyler’s dog Swoosh, the post-Thanksgiving turkey, Kyler Googled to see if it was safe for dogs.
“It’s just about giving the rules and making sure the dog obeys orders and I’ll just break up,” said Missy. “There is discipline in him that he even wants a dog to do things right.
“Those are the things that upset me about him and make me think about my father all the time – the disciplinary man who gives us orders and obeys T.’s orders.
“It made him what he is.”
It made him one of the most exciting players in the NFL, which comes with a number of advantages. Murray and his father called the custom studs Kyler wore on Sunday the “worst” they’ve ever seen.
Henderson wasn’t a football fan until he moved his family to Texas in the 1970s. Then he became a “crazy Dallas Cowboys fan,” said Missy. He’d be a Cardinals fan today if he were still around and seeing his grandson become one of the most dynamic players in the NFL.
When Kyler first saw the studs in the kitchen of his Scottsdale apartment last Tuesday, he was speechless for a moment.
“Oh, damn it,” he said before a smile crossed his face.
As Kyler held it, turned it over, looked at every design, and picked up every detail, Missy brought up another memory: It was his grandfather’s birthday.
He would have been 100.
“Since she’s my best friend, I wanted to do this for her,” Kyler said of his mother. “It’s unfortunate that I never met him, but she says we’re so alike, I think it’s fitting to be able to represent him, to honor him.”