Diane Davis was a sprinter in high school, and her kids inherited her foot speed, which explains a lot about Rajai Davis today. She devoted her work to a worthy cause, spending her days working with disadvantaged kids near their home in Connecticut. It didn't allow her a lot of free time to shuttle the kids from one practice to another, but it allowed her to support them.
Her athleticism wasn't the only thing she passed along.
"They had to work a lot, so it was really tough. They worked hard to put food on the table," Rajai Davis said. "The biggest thing was to experience that work ethic. You see it in them day in and day out. If you want to eat, you've gotta work. We had chores we had to do around the house, that mom would give us. I didn't like the chores, but we still had to do them.
"Washing dishes, clean your room, make your bed, taking out the trash, cleaning, mopping the stairs. We had to sweep and mop it so that everything smelled fresh when we were done. It was no fun. We probably had the cleanest house around."
They also had the challenge of making the grades to ensure their parents, educators both, were satisfied with their progress. When they didn't, she wasn't afraid to interfere. For promising baseball player Rajai Davis, that meant leaving the high school team shortly after he joined it, a moment that remains fresh in his memory.
"I was acting up in school, and she took me off of the ninth-grade team, during baseball season," he said. "She said, 'You can't play if you're not achieving in your schoolwork. There's a consequence for it.' I learned my lesson real quick. Can't be acting up in school.
"I was more of a clown. The work was not a big deal, but more of the discipline. I was just having fun as a ninth-grader during class. It was a lesson I learned."
It took a progress report from teachers to convince her to let her son back onto the baseball team. He ended up making the varsity program soon after, he said. The rest is history.
A decade later, Rajai achieved his Major League dreams, reaching the big leagues in Pittsburgh on a mid-August evening in 2006. His parents made the day-long drive from Connecticut to be there to watch him.
Diane still works with kids in Connecticut, though she could've retired. Her love and work ethic is still pushing her son at age 34.
"That's the thing. I always had the support from my parents," Davis said. "It was big for me."