ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - It’s no secret that families had to stick together during the Civil Rights Movement.
They helped each other stay strong while fighting against unfair treatment.
And the Lockette family legacy, based on determination and strong family values, is no different.
Erin Lockette said family is everything, and that support is what keeps her family strong.
“Settling is not an option. Success is the only way, even no matter how hard things get, you keep going. You keep God first,” Erin said.
Erin’s grandparents, Helen and Willie Lockette, just celebrated their 50th anniversary. Their love started in Crisp County from very humble, but poor beginnings.
“My grandmother was a woman that worked in the fields and picked cotton and she didn’t have much of an education and from that, you have my father, who I thank God for, who is now the Chief of Superior Court for Dougherty County,” Patrina Lockette said.
Most know Dr. Patrina Lockette’s father as Superior Court Judge Willie Lockette.
He just turned down an appointment offer to Georgia’s Highest Court, so he can end his career of public service in Southwest Georgia —where it all started nearly 46 years ago.
But at home, he’s just dad or granddad.
“We’ve always known what it meant to be a strong family, a loving family. And we taught that to our children, And they passed it on to their children,” Helen said.
Earl and his wife Felita Lockette are the parents of Superbowl Champion Ricardo Lockette.
Ricardo said he wouldn’t be where he is today if they hadn’t passed down those very same values.
“One thousand percent, sports runs in my family. But there’s a lot of other things that run in my family, diligence, determination, resilience. And I think that’s something that allowed the resilience and determination is what propelled me to be the person that I am today,” Ricardo said.
Speaking about his grandson Ricardo, Judge Lockette said his athletic ability is just a very small part of what he is and who he is.
Ricardo was a standout football player at Monroe High School and a track star at Fort Valley State University.
He later won the Superbowl in 2014 with the Seattle Seahawks.
A year later, he suffered a season-ending injury on the field and retired a year later. but instead of wallowing in his pain, he chooses to use his platform to give back to the community.
“I don’t want to be a superstar, I don’t want to be a Super Bowl champion, I don’t want to be the guy that got hurt, or the guy that lost the Super Bowl, or whatever I don’t want to be any of that. I want to be just a member of your family. That shows an example of leadership success and kindness," Ricardo said.
Ricardo is now passing down what he taught to his children.
“After everything he does, my dad always tries to explain to us why he does it. So, if like, if the thing isn’t logical, then he’s not going to do it, like it has to have a logic behind it,” Zion Lockette said.
Ricardo is also helping out the community. He is starting a school for financial literacy, so that people can understand they are different ways to be successful.
“One of the things that I think are things that I have to give credit to, my nephew is he got exhausted by feeding families. He said if we can teach them how to finance and learn how to manage their monies and learn how to say, ‘I’m not going to resist the desire to go to school and get my education.’ Those are the things that I think is the key to avoiding all of the poverty and the difficulties that single moms and other families have had to struggle for over the years,” Patrina said.
Said Ricardo: “I want to know the kids that I come back and talk to the kids, that I see the kids that follow me. I want them to know that anything is possible. It doesn’t matter where you come from, it doesn’t matter who your parents are."
“We never considered ourselves special in any kind of way. You know, I mean we’ve been blessed in a lot of ways and we don’t take that for granted but we don’t think we’re special,” Willie said.
The Lockettes have made their presence known throughout the community as examples for others.
“You always have to remember you can be greater than where you are today, where you start is definitely not how you finish,” Yolanda said.
Said Ricardo: “If I had to leave a legacy, I would say, life isn’t promised and love who loves you and appreciate your time.”
The family has started the Vineyard Ministries, which is a church without walls, to help anyone in the community that may be in need.