LB's 'reality check'

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

On Mondays a Sun staffer gets to know a sports figure a little better in Up Close. This week, Kirk Penton goes into the box with Bomber linebacker Siddeeq Shabazz, who spent the past two seasons with the Edmonton Eskimos.

The Sun: Does anyone on the planet have more Qs and Zs in their name than you?

Shabazz: Shoot, I haven't seen anybody.

Sun: Your name would rock in a game of Scrabble.

SS: Yeah, that'd be sweet.

Sun: Why were you born in Frankfurt, Germany?

SS: My dad was in the military.

Sun: How long did you live there?

SS: Until I was about four years old.

Sun: So you don't remember too much?

SS: Actually, I have some fond memories of Germany. Just some fun times. We used to go play out in the forest all the time.

Sun: You were a running back and cornerback in high school in New Mexico, and then you were Kenton Keith's backup at New Mexico State. What was that like?

SS: And that was after playing receiver. I was a utility guy for my first couple years. It was cool. It was just part of my progression. I came in, and I was small, skinny and slow. Every year I progressed. One of my first goals was to try and catch up to Kenton. He was an awesome athlete coming out of high school. I remember watching his highlight film. He was just an amazing athlete. I was looking forward to playing him in (last month's) pre-season game, but he was hurt.

Sun: Tell us about your family.

SS: I have three little ones. My oldest, Salehah, is turning six next week. They come out here on Tuesday. My son, Siddeeq, he's awesome, too. He's a wild one, but they just amaze me every day. He's four. He'll be five in October. Then we have a one-year-old, Samirah. They all just blow my mind. They changed my life, changed me for the better. That's one of the biggest things in the my life.

Sun: You grew up in a house with 10 kids?

SS: More than that. My mom had five boys, my stepdad already had 10 before my mom and her three kids came into the family. Then he had two more with my mom, and then about ... I'd say almost 20-something, but it was probably 10 at one time.

Sun: So you were still cramped for space?

SS: It was fun. We all got along -- well, we didn't always get along -- but we always took care of each other. It was great. You'd go to school, and people would know not to mess with you because you've got some big older brothers.

Sun: One of your older brothers, Shaheed, has served in Iraq?

SS: Yeah, but he's in the States now. He's already been on two tours. He's going back. He's a helicopter pilot. He only has four months off.

Sun: What's it like for you, being here playing football, knowing your brother's off defending his country?

SS: That's kind of a reality check. We're out here having fun, playing a game. People try and relate it to war and all that stuff, but there's people really out there giving their lives. And fortunately, for my brother, he's not one of the guys on the ground out there, so that makes me feel a little bit more comfortable, but he's out there, and at any time anything could happen. You get a little scared, but you try and get it out of your mind. I just keep in contact and keep letting him know that I love him.

Sun: Favourite TV show?

SS: Shoot, I grew up an MTV guy, and now I don't even watch it. I don't really watch that much TV anymore. My kids love SpongeBob, and I've started to love it. That's a funny guy. SpongeBob SquarePants is awesome. I love his sense of humour.

Sun: Who's the most famous person in your cellphone?

SS: DeAngelo Hall.

Sun: How are you liking Winnipeg?

SS: It's a nice city. I've enjoyed it so far. I'm looking forward to finding a place to live still.

Sun: You're not living in your car, are you?

SS: I'm living in the hotel still.

Sun: Hey, you just got a free classified ad.


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