The Greening of Hawaii


A.J. Green

WEST OAHU, Hawaii — The Pro Bowl is for parents, too.

Dora and Woodrow Green can't remember the last time they were on vacation. But their son is making sure they'll remember this one.

They are sitting in a veranda restaurant not far from the pool and a light Hawaiian breeze sometimes brings in a stray bird looking for crumbs. It is 80 degrees but you don't need the breeze because it is not the same suffocating 80 degrees of South Carolina. A.J. Green, the Bengals rookie receiver Pro Bowling this week, can't remember their last vacation, either. He thinks they may have gone to Florida for a few days a couple of times.

"When A.J. was in high school, all we did was go from football to basketball to football to basketball. All four years. There wasn't much time to do anything else," Woodrow says.

"He did track a little bit," Dora says. "But I didn't let him do that because it was just too much."

A.J. Green's parents are both 53 and got married not long out of high school. "Almost" high school sweethearts, Woodrow says, and their only child has taken up 23 of their years.

The Greens saw some of the most exciting rookie training camp in Bengals history last year because they had come up from their home in Summerville, S.C. to help A.J. get settled, and they would drive him back and forth to camp as if this were still a Summerville High two-a-day.

Then they spent nearly a month over the holidays and Woodrow's birthday at A.J.'s Northern Kentucky apartment. They were able to see the last three home games and smooth over that first Christmas away from home.

Now, this.

They are on vacation, so when the waiter asked Woodrow if he wanted fries or a potato that was part of a Hawaiian plant with his tuna sandwich, he went local.

"Best vacation we've ever had," Woodrow says. "We got in Wednesday night and we're going back Monday. I love everything about it. The hotel. The food."

"Every day," Dora says when asked if they've walked the beach.

She doesn't have to be back to work at Wal-Mart until a week from Monday and she says she's way too young to stop working now as a claiming clerk.

"Been there 25 years March 25," she says.

When the Greens go home, it will be to their house that sits on about 132 acres in Summerville, S.C. that have been in the Green family forever and their homes are scattered across the property. On one side of Woodrow and Dora's home is his brother's family and on the other side is his first cousin's. He and his brother both run a local bar that's been right there for three generations in the family.

"Country bar," Woodrow says. "We've got a couple of pool tables, beer and wine mostly. A lot of customers sit at the bar and watch sports. I've got a couple of TVs in there."

A.J. Green gets his long slender frame, pleasant manner and short sentences from Dora. He gets the daily grind work ethic from Woodrow. The parents of one of the greatest athletes to ever come out of South Carolina never played a sport at Summerville High School.

Although, Dora did play some volleyball in a league and played centerfield in softball for 10 years. Woodrow played with his friends and relatives in the neighborhood.

"I tell A.J. he gets it from me; we're just joking," Woodrow says. "He laughs and says, 'But Daddy, you never played.' "

Up until three years ago, Woodrow was a supervisor at a concrete company until he was laid off. He had been there since 1997, staring as heavy equipment operator. Back in '97 when he arrived, he was coming from a steel plant that had shut down, eliminating his job as a furnace operator.

That time, he was out of work only three weeks. This time, he had a chance to go back, but there are games to see and, plus, there is the bar to keep running.

But he's looking a little restless these days and he's thinking about the boat A.J. bought him for Christmas. Woodrow is an avid fisherman and goes out nearly every day. Now that he's got the 16-footer, he's no longer fishing off the banks.

"My friend and I go out and we catch all kinds," Woodrow says. "Catfish. Mudfish. Crappie. Bass."

He still hasn't put a name on the boat. But Dora gave him a great idea and they'll get it on there when they get back.

"Who Dey."

He may try to get in some fishing this trip. A.J. and his girlfriend Miranda Brooke are getting into the water sports. Woodrow got in a kayak for the first time in his life and they plan to jet ski over at Waikiki Beach.

But mostly the parents are enjoying the beach and the sights and sticking around the hotel hasn't been bad either.

"It's better than I ever could have dreamed it," Dora says.

The Pro Bowl is for parents, too.

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