From the moment the Phoenix Suns announced that NBA player Grant Hill would be coming to the Valley, endless talk ensued. Some Orlando Magic fans felt that after seven tumultuous seasons with their team, the 6-foot-8 Hill owed them a championship.
Critics even wondered why teams such as the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Maverick would be interested in courting Hill given his long history of injuries. But when the 35-year-old hoop star made mention of an early retirement, people wondered if this good guy’s days were about to be numbered. Luckily for fans here, Hill signed a two-year deal with the Suns. With the new season under way, he has joined Steve Nash, Shawn Marion, Raja Bell, Amare Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa and his other teammates on the court in their determined quest for a championship.
Off the court, the big-name superstar has been busy with his two favorite little people: daughters Myla Grace, 5, and 4-month-old Lael (pronounced Lay-el) Rose. “It’s been fun as a parent,” Hill says. “I love them as much as I can love anything.”
Hill has been sharing daddy duty with his wife of eight years, rhythm-and-blues singer Tamia, 32. Together they’ve adapted to many changes this year and are glad to have found a resting spot in their Paradise Valley home. “We were very rooted in Central Florida,” Hill says. “But changing teams, changing cities and adding a new addition to our household has felt a little transitional. Sometimes change can be fun. Sometimes it can be scary. We’re excited now that we’re settled.”
The Valley is excited too. “I’m where I wanted to be. …Don’t go by what I did for Detroit, or what I did or didn’t do in Orlando. Just judge me on what you see. That’s all I ask for. …I’m good for the team and for the community. Just wait and see,” he says.
Hill sat down with 101 North magazine recently to talk about how he and his family are settling into their new lives.
Q: What was on your to-do list once you committed to moving here?
A: The first thing we wanted was to try and get Myla into a good school. Thankfully there was a spot at a school in Paradise Valley. Then, we wanted to find a home close to the school. My mom actually came out (since Tamia was in the no-fly state of her pregnancy), and we looked at a number of homes – I don’t think my wife trusted my judgment. But we ended up picking the house that I like and not the house that my mom liked.
Q: Tell us about your new home.
A: I fell in love with it. The house is great. We have grass, a backyard and a pool. It came furnished and has an Asian-modern feel. We spend a lot of time in the family room and kitchen area so we needed a place that still has that home feel. It’s very comfortable. It’s not to the point where we don’t feel like we can’t touch anything. So we’re very happy – a nice home, a nice neighborhood.
Q: What does it feel like to have two daughters now?
A: As a father it’s been fun to see Myla and her reaction to Lael. I can’t wait until Lael’s personality evolves and she’s able to understand what’s going on. To see her interaction with her big sister is going to be a lot of fun. As for daddy’s little girls – you hear about it, you read about it, you see it, but when you experience it – it’s a great feeling.
Q: How is Tamia feeling?
A: She’s doing well. She’s out and about, working out and getting ready to go back to work. She’s got some interesting things lined up for the future. She’s going to go back out and tour. Somebody in the family has to work. I always joke that I wanted five or six kids buts it’s a lot. She goes through so much with the delivery. If we went for another – great, but even if I just have girls I’m happy. I think she may go for it again. I have no say.
Q: Newspapers said the Suns picked you because you are a great playmaker. What are you bringing to your new team?
A: I don’t like patting my own back, but I think I am a skilled player – a guy who can make plays for others and make plays for myself. I like to think I have a pretty good basketball IQ. But most importantly, I’m hungry. I want to win. Not saying I never did before, but you feel like you have a chance. Nash, Marion – everybody’s hungry. They want to win. Expectations are championship. Some people look at it as pressure. I look at it as fun. I’ve been in situations where there weren’t any expectations and that’s no fun.
Q: Do you think your ankle injuries will prevent you from being a force this season?
A: Not at all. The last surgery I had on my ankle was April of 2003 so I haven’t had an ankle problem, but I have had other problems as a result of the compensation – stomach, sports hernia and things of that nature. I have goals for this season. I think you’ll see considering what I’ve been through to now be healthy and to now be playing, I’ve never felt my skills were a problem or a question mark of my health. It’s about moving forward. I’m going to make the most of it.
Q: Staying healthy must be important to you and your family. If we opened your refrigerator, what items would we find?
A: We have baby formula for Lael, lots of fruit and a lot of Popsicles and ice cream treats for Myla, which are very tempting but I try to stay away from. My wife and I try to live healthy so we have a lot of organic products, and I drink nothing but water. I have tons of water.
Q: You have to have a guilty pleasure. Please share.
A: Cookies. I’m the type if I’m in the mood, I can sit and eat a whole container of cookies, and white cake and white icing.
Q: You are an avid art collector. Are you still collecting?
A: We still collect. The most recent art we bought was a John Biggers piece. I’ve pretty much focused in on African-American art as a genre but being out here I’ve noticed there’s a lot of great Native American art. I’m looking to evolve as a collector and identify some of the young up-and-coming African-American artists. I have a lot of the older masters, but it would be interesting to try to get to know and see these artists grow during their lifetime The majority of the pieces I have are of artists all gone and passed away.
Q: What causes are near and dear to your heart?
A: My wife and I, through our foundation (Tamia & Grant Hill Foundation), don’t have a rhyme or reason to what we do or how we do it. …We support charities at a particular moment that are important to us – financially or with our time. My wife has multiple sclerosis so we’ve supported a number of places where they have made medical contributions to MS. We’re all over. Whatever is near and dear to our hearts. We live in a position where we have achieved a lot so it’s our responsibility to help others.
Q: Is Phoenix the end of the road for you?
A: It’s going to end at some point. …I’m looking forward to the opportunities that are out there when that day comes. We’ll see. One thing I’ve learned in the last seven years is that you can’t predict the future. …I love the game, and I love the team and I’d love to play for as long as I can.