Jordan’s Journey: A Letter From A Father

Jordan Martin McNair was my son. He was flesh of my flesh, and bone of my bone. He was good. I don’t say this just because I am Jordan’s father; I say this because it took an entire village to raise the son I, and his mother Tonya, had the privilege of raising.

Jordan was a true athlete from the moment he first walked onto the tee ball and flag football fields and the basketball gym floor. Jordan was always a competitive athlete from winter basketball leagues to the Baltimore Neighborhood Basketball League (B.N.B.L.) and Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) leagues. Always the biggest kid on his teams, he found a place where we thought a big man could be a big man: on the gridiron.

Up until the age of 13, Jordan and I were focused on taking his basketball skills to the collegiate level. We just knew he would get there! Football was never a thought. It wasn’t until a coach from another school suggested that Jordan consider playing football instead of basketball. Jordan had one thing going for him that you just couldn’t teach, his size! Along with a strong work ethic and supportive mother and father, Jordan was a coaches’ dream. While our college basketball dreams slowly faded away, we knew we had the making of a football career ahead of us.

At age 14, Jordan walked onto the football field as a basketball player with quick feet. His size, foot handle and focus made him an excellent choice for an offensive lineman. He dominated on field as a left tackle guarding his quarterback. Although Jordan had yet to develop the skills and learn the fundamentals of football, his athletic ability made him a viable opponent. The rest would come with time, practice, and great coaches.

Jordan’s first season on the football field, positioned him in front of several private schools, giving him opportunities to become a rising student athlete. He was eventually recruited by the McDonogh School, where a serendipitous relationship was formed between us and the school. McDonogh was family. There he continued to rise and solidify his status as a highly sought after offensive lineman. During his freshman year, he was already on the radar of the University of Maryland, a rarity for their athletic program, and Ohio State. Jordan received more interest than typical of 9th grade athletes. It was at that moment a seed was planted for collegiate athletics.

Somewhere between video games, summer school, basketball games, and football combines, Jordan began to get to know his body. Or should I say, he began to grow into his body. Alas, everything was falling into place! Even with a full schedule, Jordan still made time to enjoy his high school years and spend time with friends. He was a hugely popular student known more by his smile than words and loved by his teachers and peers.

As the college offers started to roll in during his sophomore year, Tonya and I kept him grounded. Football was important, but so was his schoolwork and his household responsibilities. He’d hear from us often, “We don’t care how many offers you receive from these colleges, you need to work harder in math…now go take the trash out!” It was all love and laughter…and that smile.

I’ll never forget, and I don’t think Tonya will either, the second day of school of his junior year. Jordan came home to at least 200 pieces of mail from various colleges. For any student athlete, this is a momentous time in their high school athletic career – to have that many college athletic programs courting you, expressing interest in not just your athletic abilities, but your academic abilities, too!

As a father, there was always a sense of pride every time Jordan would text me with new offers. At this point, they were rolling in from Ohio State, Rutgers, Duke, Clemson, Alabama, UMD, Penn State, UNC, Auburn, and many more Division 1 football programs. I was a proud father.

Many college visits, summer combines and skill camps later, Jordan was a senior who had already made it to a few proms, and needed to make a very important decision: where to next? Jordan had to choose a school where his academic and athletic dreams and aspirations would prepare him for life, whether that was in the NFL or as a physical therapist. We chose University of Maryland as a family.

Our plans did not include his death. Our plans included something more. Our plans included him. But God had other plans. Jordan gave us 19 great years, and we will miss him. He was a great son, grandson, cousin, nephew, brother, friend, student, roommate and teammate.

In 19 years there were many life lessons, many fatherly conversations, and many teachings. But one that I believe stands out the most is that I taught Jordan to be a visionary – to see the value in building a legacy instead of joining one.

While Jordan is not with us to build his legacy, as a family we are doing it for him. This is his legacy. We ask but one thing, that you join us in keeping Jordan’s name and legacy alive by supporting The Jordan McNair Foundation (T.J.M.F.).

-Martin “Marty” McNair

21 Replies to "Jordan’s Journey: A Letter From A Father"

  • comment-avatar
    KeKe Collins
    July 16, 2018 (3:06 pm)

    Love Hugs and Continued Prayers of All that you and your family stands in need of ?? #JordonStrong

  • comment-avatar
    Twilah Heckstall
    July 16, 2018 (3:22 pm)

    I admire you and your family’s courage and strength! I am here to support Jordan’s Journey. His legacy will live on!

  • comment-avatar
    Arthur Jones
    July 16, 2018 (8:33 pm)

    Hi Marty! I recently loss my boy on 6/18! God always has a plan and a purpose. It was for this reason. Continued success on the foundation. You and it will be in my prayers always!

    • comment-avatar
      Tonya Wilson
      July 18, 2018 (7:07 am)

      Hi Arthur,
      I am Jordan’s mom, Tonya. With deepest sympathy I am sorry for your family’s loss. May God bless you and your family and may he provide you with peace and comfort. God’s plans are always bigger than our own. My family and I will keep you and your family in prayer.

    • comment-avatar
      Martin McNair
      August 5, 2018 (1:09 pm)

      Hey Arthur , pardon the late response. I’m just seeing this post. My family’s deepest condolences for the lost of your son. Our plans and God’s plan is extremely different than ours . However, I know he knows best. We’re here for you and your family .


  • comment-avatar
    Lynelle Gregory
    July 16, 2018 (10:48 pm)

    My soul? simply aches for you and Your Precious Family ♥️ I have no words that may even closely express the pain and grief of Jordan’s loss ??
    So, I’ll she’d my silent tears and pleas to OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN ??, to collectively grab ahold to You All as Family, Friends, Teammates, Fans and loved ones alike and in time, bring you to Peace of mind and Heart as JORDANS Legacy continues to live on though this Foundation. Which will inspire children to EXCEL TO EXCELLANCE for generations to come. AGAIN, my DEEPEST SINCEREST CONDOLENCES ? PRAYING???? ??? for you and your Family ?????

  • comment-avatar
    July 16, 2018 (11:12 pm)

    Remo much love and respect! Sorry for your loss

  • comment-avatar
    Greg Martin
    July 17, 2018 (4:26 am)

    Mr McNair 1st of my thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family on the lost of your son. I can’t imagine the pain you feel but I’m
    Inspired by your strength to carry on. My name is Greg Martin and I’m from New Jersey and like you I chose McDonogh for my son. As a young kid I had dreams of him playing in the NFL as I have coached football for years but God blessed him as a wrestler. He went to McDonogh and his career took off. He eventually landed at Ohio State and has become a 3 time all American with a year to go. I said all of that to say this in life we can’t chose our path but God the father leads and guides us so keep following his path and be blessed in keeping your sons name alive!! Much Love!!!

    • comment-avatar
      Martin McNair
      August 5, 2018 (1:13 pm)

      Hey Greg, sorry for the late response. McDonogh was an excellent choice for my family too. Tell the young fella to listen to his body, keep up the good work and hopefully we’ll be watching him on Sundays. Also tell him to live his Best Life Today!!


  • comment-avatar
    Ronald Miller
    July 18, 2018 (3:21 pm)

    Beautifully written about a great human being. You all did your job by seeing to it that Jordan was a good person and contributed to the world in a positive way. Don’t worry, his legacy will live on. Long after we are gone , is legacy will continue. God bless you and Jordans family. May he rest in eternal peace.

    • comment-avatar
      Martin McNair
      August 5, 2018 (1:15 pm)

      Ronald, thanks for the words of admiration. Pardon the late response, Thanks for the Support.


  • comment-avatar
    Deon Freeman
    July 19, 2018 (3:30 am)

    Love & Respect… Fam….

  • comment-avatar
    Melissa Miller
    August 11, 2018 (5:34 am)

    May God continue to bless and strengthen your family. Jordan’s memory, beautiful smile, love and joy will continue to live on!??.????????????

  • comment-avatar
    Orchell Hall Brown
    August 11, 2018 (2:53 pm)

    This touches my heart. May God continue to Bless you as well as my cousin Tonya and the rest of the family. I will continue to pray for your strength and understanding. May his Legacy continue through you and Tonya.
    Much love,
    From Jordan’s Virginia family.

  • What we know about Maryland and the death of Jordan McNair – Timeivy
    August 14, 2018 (8:13 pm)

    […] plans did not include his death,” Jordan’s father, Martin McNair, wrote in a letter on the foundation’s website. “Our plans included something more. Our plans included him. But God had other plans. Jordan gave […]

  • comment-avatar
    August 16, 2018 (4:57 am)

    I recently saw Jordan’s story on Good Morning America. I came on to this website that you mention in your interview to see more of Jordan’s story. I’m so sorry for your loss. May God give you peace during this time of loss. I will keep your family in my thoughts and prayers.

  • comment-avatar
    Gracie Wells Chamblee
    August 16, 2018 (5:18 am)

    Good Morning, Thanks so much for sharing Jordan’s Story with the Public. My prayers and positive thoughts are with Jordan’s Mom. Dad, Family and Friends. My youngest son is an entering Freshman at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina on a football scholarship.

    Please know that Jordan’s Life and Tragic death will make a difference and bring awareness to Heat Stroke.

    Continued Peace and Blessing from God,
    Gracie Chamblee

  • comment-avatar
    Marianne VanDemark
    August 16, 2018 (9:44 am)

    I have followed your sons recruitment as he was being recruited the same year as my son.. I always would look at the Oline recruits to see who chose which schools to pursue their next 4 son didn’t end up at Maryland but I still followed as many of the boys careers at other schools.
    I’m very sorry to hear what happened to Jordan.. there is no excuse for what happened..
    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time.. may he Rest In Peace..#jordanstrong
    Marianne V

  • comment-avatar
    Josie Ramirez
    August 18, 2018 (4:46 pm)

    To the McNair family, I am in California; from the day I learned of this tragedy, I could not comprehend how any individual (trainer, teammate, passerby) did not intervene. As you inferred, It is/was God’s plan to allow 19 beautiful years with your son. His legacy will continue for many, many years to come.

  • comment-avatar
    Michael Fuller
    October 1, 2018 (11:13 am)

    I don’t have to express to you and Tonya how I personally felt about Jordan. I think it goes without saying. I was speaking Kevin after your presentation to our players. Inspirational is the one word that comes to mind. The admiration I have for the strength you two have shown through this, words can’t explain. Just know that you and Tonya will always have the continued support of Hamilton for you personally as well as the foundation. Jordan is now and always will be a Tiger for Life. “HERE WE STAND”

  • comment-avatar
    Charlie bo
    September 7, 2019 (4:10 pm)

    To the mcnair family we are so sorry for what they did to your son and what he had to endure but jordans journey will continue #79 for life baltimore supports your family lets get a championship in honor of your son rest easy Jordan we love you bro and will never forget you