It’s a scene Brian Hunter will keep forever in his mental scrapbook.
He was watching his son — Iowa linebacker Jeremiha Hunter — discipline his children, when suddenly the generational lines became blurred.
Jeremiha paused, realizing there was something familiar in the words and tone he used. Brian smiled.
“Absolutely, one of my favorite things in life,” the proud grandfather said. “It’s a great parenting moment, especially when they’re correcting a child and they get a mental picture of their parents and they see themselves turning into the person they disagreed with.”
For the past three years, thousands of Hawkeye football fans have seen Jeremiha Hunter as a sometimes-unheralded defender, with 236 career tackles and an occasional appearance in the highlight reels.
His father sees a 22-year-old man who took on the responsibility of raising twins, mourned the death of a childhood friend and embraced a family legacy of helping others.
“If I had to say something about (Jeremiha’s) time in Iowa, it was his maturation,” Brian Hunter said, “from his freshman year until now.”
Azariha and Jeremiha Jr. were born on Aug. 1, 2008, about a month before Jeremiha Sr. began his sophomore season with the Hawkeyes.
“There was a lot going on that year,” said the former Harrisburg, Pa., high school star. “It was tough, but I usually take things as they come.”
Brian Hunter, a freelance cameraman who has captured video images for ESPN, CBS and MTV, reveals how tough it was.
“There was also one more thing that happened in that same time frame,” he said. “(Jeremiha’s) best friend was killed.”
Riccardo “Boo” Banks, a talented basketball player, was shot in Hunter’s hometown of York, Pa.
“Wrong place. Wrong time,” Brian said. “His head was blown off.”
At first, the father wanted to shield his son from the horrific details.
“I tried to keep it all away from him,” Brian said, “but with cell phones in this day and age … somebody called him.”
Then, he tried to console his son.
“There’s really no words that you can give to somebody,” Brian said. “You’re just there for them if they need to talk.
“I’ve lost people close to me, but to lose a best friend — it’s just another level.”
The Hunters are familiar with the fragility of life.
The family once owned an assisted-living facility that helped displaced children.
Jeremiha’s mother, Rebecca, has spent the past five years working with adjudicated juveniles.
“There is a vein that runs through our family with that type of work,” said Brian, who has counseled at-risk teenagers.
Jeremiha, an interdepartmental studies major at Iowa, plans to continue the tradition.
“If the football thing doesn’t work out (professionally), I know what I want to do,” he said. “I want to work with troubled youth.”
For now, Hunter continues to learn the art of parenting.
He lives with the twins and their mother, Sacha Johnson.
“Family and school. That’s it,” Jeremiha said. “That’s my focus.”
Occasionally, his schedule includes time as the Hawkeyes’ unofficial barber.
“Where we’re from, a lot of guys get into cutting hair,” Brian Hunter said. “With Jeremiha, it was kind of a way to hone his skills and make a couple dollars.”
The feedback from teammates is mostly positive.
“He’s a very reliable barber,” tailback Adam Robinson said. “He does good work and I think the guys on the team trust him.”
Some marvel at the way Hunter, who’s been known to sport a mohawk, manages to stay trendy.
“I would be bald if I was him,” cornerback Shaun Prater said. “He has school, football and he has twins.
“On top of that, he has to keep his hair curly and shave. I don’t know how he juggles all that.”
When asked about his hectic schedule, Jeremiha offers an answer that would make his father grin.
“As you get older, they expect more from you,” he said of coaches and peers. “So you have to be up on your game, not only on the field, but off the field, too.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football