He may play tough on the field, but at the Nashville childcare center he owns with his wife he loves to play like a dad with all the kids.
Tennessee Titans offensive lineman Leroy Harris (#64) stands 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs more than 300 pounds. You do not want to meet this man on the football field. You may however want to place your children in his massive arms for a few hours. When he’s not facing down the biggest and baddest in the NFL, he’s reading a book to his young son before bed, wrangling his squirming baby into a diaper and playing with kids at the Nashville day care center he owns and manages with Christina, his high school sweetheart and wife of seven years.
To state the obvious … you‘re a big guy. Are your boys big too?
Tré (Leroy III) was born a month early but he weighed eight pounds 11 ounces already. Now he’s 5 years old and 50 pounds. He can go through a gallon of milk in three days. Christian is 7 months old, he’s 25 pounds and the size of a 2-year-old. We call him Chunka. If he sees you eating real food, like a sandwich, he’ll only eat half his baby food. Then you have a 30-second window, and if nothing comes his way, he starts yelling for it.
Who gets up with the baby?
Whoever moves first. We both stay still as long as possible and see who can tolerate the yelling long enough.
What‘s the Harris house bedtime routine?
Typically after we eat dinner, Tré gets his Transformers out and Chunka thinks it’s open season! He’ll scoot over and try to steal one. Tre’ will share with him, but regulates who gets which ones. Then we’ll read a book before bed.
Christian can move across the room at 7 months?
Oh yeah! He’s fully mobile now. If you put him on the floor, he won’t be in the same spot when you come back. And changing his diaper is the worst. As soon as you lay him on his back, he rolls over and laughs. You have to hold him down to get it done.
Parents of little kids tend to be sick a lot. How do you stay healthy to be in top form for the Titans?
I swear Tré has the sniffles nine out of 12 months of the year. So, if he wants some of my drink, I give him his own cup. Of course, he’s a boy and never thinks his hands are dirty, so I make him wash his hands a lot.
Little ones are notorious for waking up at night or wanting to sleep with mom and dad. How do you get enough sleep on game days?
When you sleep with our boys, you either get kicked in the head or kneed in the ribs. Christina and I wind up clinging to the edges of the bed with a kid wrapped around us like an octopus and nobody in the middle! Luckily, the team has to stay at the Loews Vanderbilt the night before games, so I get some sleep.
Why is it important to get kids involved in sports?
Obviously encouraging kids to play sports is good for their health and developing their motor skills, but I love sports for the friends I’ve made. You build those bonds spending all that time with each other and learning to trust one another. It also teaches you how to work with different personalities.
Do you think sons of NFL players feel pressure to play football?
Because of their size, my boys might naturally gravitate toward football. I hope they never feel pressured, though. Right now Tré loves every sport from soccer to table tennis. Eventually he’ll find the one he likes. He’s got to set his own path and make his own footprints.
You‘ve got a sports management degree with a minor in business. What‘s more important athletics or education?
You can only play sports for as long as your body holds up, so education is much more important. School will get you farther than sports ever will.
You and your wife opened the Kid‘s Night Out child care center and preschool almost a year ago. Why?
Christina has sacrificed so much for me and my career as a professional athlete. Her mom owned a day care growing up, so she has a lot of experience in that field. Kid’s Night Out is something for her to excel at and enjoy. It is located at 6601 Sugar Valley Drive, Ste. 112, in Nashville on the city limits of Nolensville and Brentwood.
Do you help out?
Oh definitely. In the off season, I helped with facilities, inventory and scheduling. Now I get down on the floor and play with the kids in the evenings while Christina runs the front. They run right up to me and we have a good time.
How‘d potty training Tré go?
I took the lead on it when he was around 3. He wouldn’t go by himself. You’d ask him if he had to go and he’d say, “No.” But he looks up to everything I do, so if I said, “Come with me,” he’d do it.
If you had a friend who was expecting a baby, what would you give them?
The baby monitor that lets you see the baby! You don’t want to get up every time they moan. You’ve got to see if they’re really awake or just rolling around and looking for a pacifier.
Do you want more children?
We probably want around four kids. Last year, when the doctor said we were having a boy, Christina said, “No we’re not!” She’d already bought a girl outfit. So I think we’ll have more.
What‘s your parenting specialty around the house?
Preparing dinner. I like to cook. I don’t particularly like to give baths because the bathtub is so low down, it’s hard for me. But Tre’ likes me to give him baths. Really, he just likes to do whatever I do. He looks up to me. He’s my buddy.
Deborah Bohn writes Busy Bodies for this publication in addition to celebrity profiles. She lives in Franklin with her family.