Scott Hastings wants to be remembered for one thing: Being a good father.
The former NBA player turned broadcaster and radio host strives to leave his mark by the way he raised and nurtured his children.
“If I could have one thing on my tombstone, it would be, ‘He was a great dad,’” says Hastings. “Not a great broadcaster, great basketball player or great radio host or cool dude, funny guy or whatever. No. He was a great dad.”
Most people, if they are fortunate enough, have one go around at “the fatherhood thing.” But now in his early 50s, Hastings has been given another shot. Last April at the age of 53, he and his girlfriend, Julia, added another baby girl to his brood, which already consisted of two grown daughters, now ages 30 and 27, and his son, who is 22.
The finding out part – as in that exact moment – brought mixed emotions.
“My first fear was, ‘Oh my god, I’m an old dude,” Hastings chuckles. “My second was ‘Oh, what are my older kids going to think?’”
Approaching adult offspring with the thought of their father starting over again with a brand new family had to be difficult, but Hastings was very lucky to have the support of his three children, who all reside in Colorado. His oldest daughter is studying to be a writer and her reaction would make any father beam.
“If you tell me you’re thinking about this, I could write you three pages on why I think it’s a dumb idea. But you’re telling me this is going to happen,” she told her dad. “I think it’s the greatest thing in the world. I think babies are miracles and blessings, and I am here 100 percent. I love kids and you’ve got a babysitter anytime.”
The world is a different place than it was in the 1980s when Hastings first brought children into it. He was playing for the Atlanta Hawks, rocking the NBA standard short shorts with a middle-parted, somewhat-feathered hairdo. Constantly on the road and exhausted when home, Hastings feels like he was a bit selfish and perhaps not as present when his first three children were young. Since he now travels with the Nuggets as an analyst for Altitude Sports and Entertainment, he relies on the ability to connect with his daughter who turned one in April, via modern technology – which just wasn’t in the realm of possibility the first time around.
“Facetime to me has been the greatest invention in the history of the world,” he says. “There is more of a connection and it is cool to see the wonderment of babies that are growing. She’s walking now and trying to talk and do all that stuff that she’ll see in the iPad. (She gets) so excited and she’s grabbing the iPad and trying to look behind it and stuff like that.”
Like any proud papa, Hastings isn’t shy about whipping out his phone and showing off his favorite photos of little Eleanor – or Ellie, as he affectionately refers to her. Among his favorites are photos with the Easter bunny, an adorable shot of her hanging out in a hammock and, of course, Ellie looking on in amazement while dad is on television.
The “second time around” has given Hastings a sense of peace that has come with having a child later in life. He believes she’s helped him deal with some personal issues that previously may have plagued him – like living in the past or harping over regret and former choices.
“Probably one of my demons or weaknesses is that I live or tend to look too much behind me and live in regret,” he explains. “Then, you hold a little one year old in your hand and what’s behind you? You have to be here and now and it’s really helped me be present instead of ‘Why did I do that? Why did I make that mistake? Why did I do that choice?’ or whatever.”
One of the beautiful things any parent experiences as their children grow up is the ability to learn from the mistakes made along the way. Relationships obviously change as children mature and the way a parent interacts with their offspring changes accordingly. Hastings jokes about what it’s like to be able to sit down over coffee and have incredibly mature discussions with his older children about life and important issues, and then go home to a one-year-old and babble with excessive baby talk.
“You have these great conversations, and then I go home and I’m going, ‘What’s that ball-ball? Do you want a babba, baby?”
With a one-year-old child still in diapers, taking naps and being a part of playgroups, what would be wrong with another? What about a sibling? A partner in crime? Hastings snickers, but says he and Julia aren’t ruling it out. The couple is working together to make sure they are emotionally and physically sound as a unit before they think of bringing another child into their family dynamic.
“I didn’t think I’d be 50 and have a child; I didn’t think I’d be 50 and not be married and have a child. I didn’t think I’d be 50, have a child and be thinking of having another child,” Hasting says. “The one thing I’ve learned at 54, you can still be a better you than you’ve ever been, so that’s what I am working on; and I think that’s what Julia and I, are working on also. We’re trying to be a ‘better us’ so that we can be there for her. So in the future, if something were to come about…”
With an adorable one-year-old baby, a bustling multi-platform career and a supportive loving family by his side, Hastings is thrilled with the way his life has taken shape. As a man who embraced a career coming off the bench, he feels very fortunate to have had his number called again by “The Big Guy.”
And Ellie is lucky to have him, too. She doesn’t know, or care, how old he is.
He’s just “Daddy.”