Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s Parents: Stepdad Stepped Up After Father’s Imprisonment

By AbigailPublished on: February 5, 2024 Updated on: February 9, 2024
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Clyde Edwards-Helaire is the talented running back playing for the Kansas City Chiefs. Despite quite a few ups and downs along with controversies, Clyde has persevered and delivered good performances. While the man’s hard work and dedication are the main factors in his success, one must acknowledge his supportive parents.

His parents, Tonge’lia Wade Alexander-Helaire, and Shannon Helaire, have been with the player through thick and thin. Let’s dive into some details about them.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s Parents first met while they were part of the army

In 1996, Tonge’lia joined the United States Army, while Shannon was a part of the United States Marine Corps joining in 1989. Later, in 2000, she worked as a drill sergeant at Elayn Hunt Correctional Facility in St. Gabriel, Louisiana. The facility was holding a military-molded program called IMPACT for first and second-time nonviolent convicts.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire's parents Shannon Helaire and Tonge'lia Helaire at an event
Clyde’s mom and dad first met in the military.

Their first meeting was in the duration of their job. Shannon was a fellow drill sergeant working in the same program, and the two ended up falling in love. The couple dated each other for some time and got married in 2002. One can even call them a ‘military couple.’

Moreover, the two have instilled the same military values to their son. While the NFL star was growing up, everything was based on structure, and he formed a habit of being coolheaded. His upbringing might be the main reason for the young man’s composure on the field.

Also Read: Is Clyde Edwards-Helaire Married? Engagement With His Girlfriend

Shannon is not his biological father

Clyde was born on April 11, 1999, to Clyde Edwards Sr. and Tonge’lia. The couple was not married at the time and later broke up. Due to circumstances, Clyde’s biological father was mostly absent during his childhood, and it was his stepfather who raised him.

The athlete is extremely close to his stepdad as he has fulfilled the role of a father. They have shared a close bond over the years, both liking fishing and sports. It was Shannon who thought that Clyde would be good at playing football when he was the only kid not getting touched in tag. The running back has only good things to say about him. As per the Clyde Jr,

My stepdad, he was there. All props to him. Going to practice and everything else. He was there. Games, he was there.

Presently, Shannon has been working as the logistics manager for the Petroleum Service Corporation in Baton Rouge since October 2016.

Clyde respects both his fathers

Having been raised by Shannon, the Chiefs’ player wanted to honor his stepdad by taking his last name. At the same time, he did not want to drop Edwards from his name either, as he respected his biological father.

As a result, he has taken both of their names and is proud of having two fathers.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s biological father grew up poor

Edwards Sr. grew up on the north side of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the same as his son. He was a part of his high school football team and a star at that. Consequently, he was kind of famous as a minor celebrity in his hometown.

Although the fellow’s school life was relatively smooth, his family life was in turmoil. His mother raised him as a single parent, and that meant an additional load on a single person to earn a living.

Growing up, the man’s family faced extreme challenges in the form of poverty.

He was in prison for 14 years

When Clyde’s dad was only 17 years old, he arrived home and found his mama crying over the stress of paying the electricity bill on time. It was from then that he began to search for ways to earn money.

Unfortunately, poverty drove him in the direction of crime. Clyde Sr. had observed small-scale drug dealers earning quick money. So he got some goods from an acquaintance and began working as a dealer.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire's biological father was in prison
The player’s biological father grew up in poverty.

He also dropped out of school and stopped playing football, focusing on earning money for the family. It was at the age of 22 in March 2000 that he was caught by the authorities. FBI and DEA agents swarmed his house and arrested him for possession of drugs.

The then 22-year-old was charged with the possession of 400 grams of cocaine with the intent to distribute. Thus, he was convicted, and the court sentenced him to 30 years in prison. After serving 14 years, he was released for good behavior.

He got his life together after the release

While Edwards was convicted, he became involved in various programs that would help himself and fellow inmates learn practical skills. These programs were held at East Carroll Parish Detention Center and later Dixon Correctional Institute in Jackson, Louisiana, with the intent to help the convicts earn a living after release.

Moreover, he actively participated in awareness programs for HIV-AIDS and addiction as a trainer, counselor, and educator. He requested inspirational literature for the prisoners and became a part of the Youth Defender project. Edwards utilized his time in the prison by working for the sheriff, cleaning facilities, and assisting elderly prisoners. He even achieved certification as a nursing assistant.

Now, Edwards Sr. is married to Michie Edwards and has a daughter with her. He is making an honest living by selling used cars.

His relationship with Clyde

After his release, the footballer’s father tried his best to make up for the lost time with his kid. He had not contacted Clyde much while in prison. So he made a genuine effort to connect to his child, attending all of his games and calling him every day to talk.

Furthermore, he gave his son his first car, a 2006 all-black Mustang GT. Now, they share a close bond, and the man is extremely supportive and proud of his son’s life choices. Edwards Sr. said,

I know he looks at my life, and he always says he looks at the return and the positive that I made.

The man shares an amicable relationship with his ex-girlfriend and her husband. The latter two did not mind him reaching out after his release.

The athlete’s mother is a nurse

Born in January 1975 to Dianne Wade, Tonge’lia was raised in Baton Rouge. She served as an active duty soldier in the US Army from 1995 to 1997 and was in the reserves till 2005. After leading a tough life in the military, she retired to become a nurse. The lady worked as a nurse at Fresenius Medical Care and now is the director of nursing at a nursing home & retirement center.

Tonge’lia got married to Leon Alexander Sr. at a young age and had a son, Leon Alexander Jr. Unfortunately, her first husband passed away, making her a widow.

Afterward, she began dating Edwards Sr. and gave birth to the athlete. This relationship didn’t last long either due to the former’s imprisonment. After her former boyfriend’s indictment, Tongelia became a single mother to the eldest, Leon, and 11-month-old Clyde, juggling two toddlers and a job.

She faced many struggles in her life

Life got easier after she met her husband and later married him. Tonge’lia had two children with him: a son, Shannon Helaire Jr., and a daughter, Madison Denise Helaire. She also has a stepdaughter, Kaci Helaire.

However, life and its struggles do not just stop. Her daughter was born with the condition of muscular dystrophy and has bravely fought her whole life through it. Even through all these challenges, the nurse did not lose hope and marched her way on.

Clyde looks up to his mother

The 25-year-old has seen his mother’s struggles and has immense respect for her. Clyde took up a nursing course at his alma mater, LSU, following his mother’s footsteps. He is also the ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, being inspired by his sister.

Furthermore, Tonge’lia is a proud and supportive mama. She was initially worried about her son getting into football due to his height. However, the running back did not let it be a hindrance and has achieved so much success.

The woman acknowledges her son’s hard work and was the happiest person when he was drafted.