EAST LANSING, Mich. — His intensity says otherwise, but Michigan State forward Xavier Tillman is actually a big softy.

"I got a sense of toughness to me but I keep that 'dad' in me everywhere," the big 6-foot-8, 245-pounder explains.

He's not lying about that. Since the birth of his daughter Yanni, Xavier Tillman's life completely changed. And three years later, he could not be happier.

"When I come home and I get to see her face light up that's probably the best part," he says with a big smile.

Xavier Tillman as well as his wife Tamia Tillman, have completely embraced being parents. Though, at first, they admit they weren't ready for it. Xavier Tillman was still attending high school at Grand Rapids Christian while Tamia Tillman was already in college.

"I was still kind of like, 'Ah we're young,'" said Tamia Tillman. "[But] he was very reassuring. He let me know we are in this together, we are going to make this work."

Michigan St Basketball
Michigan State forward Xavier Tillman reacts after being called for a foul during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Northwestern, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
AP

And they have, even if it means long and very busy days. In Xavier Tillman's case, he balances fatherhood, class and basketball. It's a lot, but don't think for a second he asks MSU Head Coach Tom Izzo for any breaks.

"Even in my current situation. I have to still show the guys what they need to do in order to have success," said Xavier Tillman.

It's the kind of wisdom that comes only from being a father. The kind that brings calmness to Xavier Tillman as he and his wife prepare to welcome their second child this month

"You'll sit here and then once your baby comes out and you see them, you'll say, 'oh my gosh I would do anything to provide for this baby'," said Xavier Tillman as his eyes light up.

It's hard to believe that while Xavier Tillman is one heck of a basketball player he's an even better dad.

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