A miscarriage. Births and deaths of two more babies. An adoption. A natural childbirth. And a divorce.
To say DeMarcus Ware has experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in his personal life would be an understatement.
“When you have a lot of things happen in your life, you sit back and think, ‘Where’s the positivity in it? What can I learn from it?’” questioned the Pro Bowl linebacker. “Instead of having the feeling of, ‘Why me?’ I’ve always had that mentality of, ‘Yeah, these things happened, but how can I get better from it?’”
Ware and his ex-wife, Taniqua, endured three failed pregnancies and wondered if they were ever meant to have children.
In 2005, Taniqua suffered a miscarriage when DeMarcus was in the middle of his first NFL training camp with the Dallas Cowboys.
The following year, five months into their second pregnancy, the couple learned that the male fetus Taniqua was carrying had no kidneys and couldn’t survive outside the womb. She delivered a stillborn son and they named him Omar.
In the fall of 2007, after consulting with fertility specialists and high-risk pregnancy doctors, Taniqua became pregnant for a third time. But heartbreak happened again when the baby’s heart mysteriously stopped beating more than halfway through the pregnancy. In January 2008, Taniqua delivered their second stillborn child.
That same week, however, some good news finally came the Ware’s way. Thanks to a Godly twist-of-fate, they learned of a nearby woman who was about to give birth and planned to put her child up for adoption.
She delivered a healthy baby girl on leap day, Feb. 29, and the Wares were at the hospital for her arrival. They arranged for a private adoption and named their daughter Marley, after DeMarcus’ favorite reggae singer, Bob Marley.
Fast-forward several years. Marley is now seven years old and has an affinity for painting, drawing and building things. She shares at least one personality trait with her football-playing father.
“I’m a very inquisitive person, always trying to figure something out,” said the 10-year NFL veteran. “That’s how Marley is. She sits back and assesses the situation.”
Ware says he’s talked to his daughter sparingly about how she ended up in the Ware family, but will share more details when the time is right.
“When she gets to the point where she’s really old enough to understand, that’s when we’ll gradually feed that to her and say, ‘This is what happened. You don’t understand how big of a blessing you are to us,’” Ware explained. “It’s a different dynamic and I’m looking forward to explaining to her the whole situation.”
Two years later, even more good news arrived. Following a healthy, full-term pregnancy, Taniqua delivered a baby boy in November 2010. After all the Wares had been through, it seemed only fitting to name their son DeMarcus, Jr., after his father. The boy, who they call “Bubba,” is very active, always eager to play with airplanes and cars, or trying to recruit his daddy for a game of hide-and-seek or to chase him around the house.
Ware takes a tremendous amount of pride in being a dad and enjoys learning what makes each child tick.
“I think you become a better father through time because you figure out the personalities of the children,” said the 32-year-old Broncos pass rusher. “You can tailor it to where you want to incorporate your foundation into their lives.”
Sadly, DeMarcus and Taniqua divorced in 2012. But even still, the siblings have a solid foundation and receive a tremendous amount of love from their parents. The kids live with their mother in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but get to spend roughly two weeks a month with their dad in Denver, Dallas, and many fun and interesting places in between. This spring, Ware took Marley and Bubba to Washington, D.C., which included a trip to the White House. And the three will spend this Father’s Day at Disney World in Orlando. Ware says he’s excited to take his kids to “The Happiest Place on Earth” and share in a new experience with them.
All the happy memories Ware creates with Marley and DeMarcus, Jr. no doubt make the losses he has experienced a bit easier to cope with and process. He admits he’s become stronger because of those tough times and feels tremendously grateful for what he does have in life.
“I have my son. I have Marley. I still have blessings,” he said. “You can let those things weigh you down or you can be positive and let them grow into something bigger and now you’re even in a better place.”
This story originally appeared in Mile High Sports Magazine. Click here to subscribe.