During the NFL season, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Eugene Marquis “T. Y.” Hilton and his teammates go up against other professional football teams every Sunday.
Yet those games, or the practices in between, did not prepare him for a March 21 basketball game against his father’s team.
Tyrone “Coach T.Y.” Hilton Sr. and his son both assembled teams of their friends and former teammates for the second annual T.Y. Hilton Basketball Challenge at the Northwest Boys & Girls Club of Miami-Dade.
The younger Hilton enlisted the help of former and current professional football players like Gartrell Johnson, Anthony Gaitor and NBA Sacramento Kings forward Zach “Z-Bo” Randolph.
Coach T.Y.’s team was made up of players and coaches from various sports such as MLB player Daniel Ray “Danny” Herrera, former Barry University basketball player Willie Whitfield and Miami Springs coach Robert Nolan. After four close-to-call quarters, Coach T.Y.’s team — the Big TYs — ended up on top, 87-82.
Hilton said he was surprised by the win, but his father’s team showed good performance.
“They came up and won. We are going to have to come at a higher level next year,” he said. “We had some spots of the game that could’ve been better. We took some bad shots.”
Last year, the Lil TYs had a better game, 78-75. Even though T.Y. Hilton plays professional football, he grew up in a home where all sports were second nature.
“My dad always said when I was born, I had a basketball in my hand,” he said.
T.Y. Hilton’s father coaches a women’s softball team that his mother and sister play on, and he also coaches an 11 and under football team at Gwen Cherry Park in Liberty City.
Both athletes said they started the challenge as a fun activity during the off-season. When Coach T.Y. is not challenging his son on the court, he pushes him to excel on the turf. Whether he is watching his pro-footballer son’s games on TV or on the sideline, the coach said he is always there to offer his son some feedback.
But he believes that he has already instilled a standard of perfectionism in his son that makes him confident in his effort at every game.
“He’s so hard on himself, and I am also too hard on him,” said Coach T.Y. “I know he can catch, but everyone drops the ball. You will see him clap his hand like he should have had it.”
If T.Y. Hilton doesn’t complete a pass, his dad explained how he interacts after the play by saying, “Man you got to catch that, come on, T.Y.”
T.Y. Hilton said growing up in Brownsville as a kid, he and his dad would always work out together and compete in the gym. The coach worked on techniques and tricks with his son during his earliest days playing the game, which was as soon as he could walk.
That competitive spirit stuck with the young player, and he credits his dad for giving him the drive to make it to the NFL.
“He always pushed me to the limit and pushed me to be a better person,” said T.Y. Hilton.”
The NFL player’s older brother, Tyrone Hilton Jr., also started playing sports at a very tender age and played on the Lil TY team.
The elder son said he expected his team to win again this year but said his dad’s team came with more experience.
“My dad came with a competitive advantage and more experienced guys, and we weren’t ready for that,” said Tyrone Hilton, noting that Coach Robert Nolan was he and his brother’s basketball coach at Miami Springs Senior High School.
Both Hilton boys, keeping in mind the expectation their father has for them, said they plan to come more prepared next year.
T.Y. Hilton who has three children, two boys, 10 and 5 and a 3-year-old daughter, said he has not set the expectation for his children to pursue professional sports, but he sees the potential in them.
“I know my daughter may most likely run track,” he said. “She is always running fast and racing against her brothers.”
This story was published in The Miami Times March 28, 2018.