Chuck Landon: Tinnon not a typical Herd player
Ah, the fun, carefree life of a college basketball player.
Go to class, study with tutors, practice, hang with the fellas in an apartment paid by your full ride's living stipend and chase the young ladies.
Not a bad lifestyle.
That's the case for a normal, run-of-the-scholarship Marshall University men's basketball player.
Except for Dennis Tinnon.
He's not normal.
Instead, the Herd's 6-foot-8, 232-pound senior forward is a family man. Tinnon and his wife, Robin, have a three-year-old daughter, Denyah, and welcomed a son, Dennis III, on Dec. 26.
That's why the five-day road trip to Southern Miss and Memphis that Marshall started on Tuesday and completed early Sunday morning was so difficult for Tinnon.
It was the first time he had been away from his infant son for an extended period of time.
"It's going to be awful," said Tinnon during an interview before the road trip began. "I wish I didn't have to leave. With basketball, you travel so much. It's always sad to leave my life here because we have a three-year-old daughter already and my wife is so overwhelmed with everything.
"She's taking classes and the kids. ... it's just bad sometimes that I have to leave her. She's understanding, but my wife is not going to be happy about me being gone for five days."
Neither was Dennis.
That's what a devoted father he is.
"I like to help," said the 24-year-old Tinnon. "My wife does a great job with taking care of her business at home and school and taking care of the kids while I'm gone so much.
"I like to be part of my children's lives. I like to do the small things, like changing a diaper or this morning I told my wife to stay asleep and I'll take our son. Once my daughter got up, I brought her downstairs and fed her. Those are the things I like to do. I want to help. I like to be involved.
"When i get home, I make sure I take the kids the majority of the time. I'm leaving for five days, but I try to do my best to manage my time while I'm here."
That includes late-night duty with the baby.
"My wife lets me go to sleep and, then, she's up," explained Tinnon. "Then, she'll sneak a little nap and I'll hear him crying and look over at her and say, 'Are you going to get him?' Then, I see she's not moving, so I'll hop out of bed and change his diaper and feed him.
"I'll probably stay up with him for a few hours until he goes to sleep. He's always up in the middle of the night. And he cries so much. I think I forgot about that stage with my daughter because it's been a while -- three and a half years."
Dennis III cries like his daddy rebounds. ... relentless.
"My son is on a roll with crying all the time," said Tinnon with a laugh. "But as soon as you pick him up, he'll stop. If you don't, he'll cry and cry. I don't know how long he'd cry. I've never tested it. I don't want to, either."
He didn't want to leave his wife and kids for five days, either, but that's life as a basketball player.
"I love my family," said Tinnon. "I hate to leave. Five days seems like it's going to be forever. Thank God for technology with Skype. I'll be Skyping because I want to see my family.
"Otherwise, I'd be devastated."
That's why Tinnon is the one Marshall player who can keep a disastrous road trip in perspective.
Denyah and Dennis III don't care if their daddy won or lost.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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