Family life is nothing new for junior forward Xavier Tillman. He and his wife Tamia have been married since May 2019, and the two raise their three-year-old daughter, Ayanna, better known as Yanni, together.
But any day now, another piece will be added to their family puzzle, a son.
“I’ve found a good balance, it’s pretty good right now, but obviously when he comes out we will see how I handle it, if I have bags under my eyes at the game or something like that,” Tillman said, laughing. “I haven’t been overwhelmed in any aspect so far with school or with basketball or with my family.”
Tillman met Tamia, 23, in high school, and the two had their first daughter during Tillman’s junior year.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said Tillman’s situation is something he said he has never dealt with before. However, he said he has never seen Tillman’s extra family responsibilities stand in the way of his abilities as a player.
“He, too, has more than a few things on his plate. That is not normal and that doesn’t make it bad, it’s just the reality of what you have to deal with,” Izzo said. “I don’t question (Tillman) in any way, shape or form. He’s had a couple games where he has missed those shots and fumbled those balls ... but every day in practice he answers the bell, every game he’s answering the bell.”
The Spartan big has struggled lately, letting some easy layups slip away, costing his team some needed points, especially Feb. 1 at Wisconsin.
However, securing the Spartans’ 70-69 win at Illinois Feb. 11 with a slam that, in his words, “let all my anger out on the rim,” brought back the energy he’s known to bring to the court.
For the Grand Rapids native, he said Tamia plays a big role in his collegiate balancing act.
“My wife is doing a great job because she doesn’t pressure me,” Tillman said. “(Instead of) ‘Hey, can you come home instead of put up extra shots?’ she’s like, ‘No, go put up extra shots and we will be here when you get home.’ She definitely helps me in that aspect to where I know I can go and work out and not feel the pressure to run home and see them because she knows that I’m putting in work for them.”
According to Tillman and Tamia’s Instagram accounts, their son, who Tamia recently referred to as “Baby Zay,” in a post, is due this month.
Right in time for the busiest part of MSU’s season, Izzo said his main focus is being there for Tillman as a supporter both in the game and in his life.
“As far as (Tillman) goes, that one’s out of my hands,” Izzo said, half joking, half serious. “I’ll have a game plan for him but ... I won’t be involved in anything but trying to help Xavier (Tillman) deal, cope and move forward. He’s handling it very well, it’s just not something I’ve gone through very often, or never, so we’ll be alright with that.”
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