New England Patriots running back James White reflected emotionally on the influence his late father, Tyrone, had on him following Monday night's 26-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, and said the health of his mother, Lisa, is improving.
Tyrone White was killed in a car accident in Florida on Sept. 20, a few hours before the Patriots were scheduled to play against the Seattle Seahawks. Lisa White was a passenger in the car and had been hospitalized.
"My mom is continuing to improve and progress, so that eases my mind a little bit. Being on the football field kind of eases my mind a little bit, too," White said Monday night, in his first interview since returning to the Patriots last week. "I'm just trying to push through, because that's what my dad would want me to do."
White, who missed two games, received an outpouring of support from around the NFL. He said Monday night that it helped lift his spirits in what has been a "surreal" situation.
Tears filled his eyes as he discussed what his dad has meant to his football career.
"He's one of the biggest reasons I play football. Knowing my dad played football motivated me. He was a coach for me growing up, and obviously it's not always fun having your dad be your coach, but he pushed me, made me who I am today," White said.
"I missed getting that text he would usually send me on Saturday nights before games, just a simple text he would send to get me prepared for the games. I kind of looked back at the last text I got Saturday before the Seahawks game to kind of reminisce on that. He meant everything for me."
White, 28, said he's been "trying look at all the positives" in life during trying times.
"It was extremely tough for me. My mind still really can't wrap itself around everything. I'm still trying to process everything," he said. "What's gotten me through is my family, seeing my mom continue to recover, being around my wife and my son, and my teammates; them kind of uplifting me. It's a familylike atmosphere in the locker room. Being in the locker room kind of keeps my mind at ease."
In Monday's road loss to the Chiefs, White had three rushes for 21 yards and totaled seven receptions for 38 yards.