Raising Alexis

Stephanie Toone

our years ago, two high school sweethearts left their home in Lexington for a new beginning at Western.

One was Antwon Pinkston, an outgoing football newcomer.

The other was Tiffany Carter, a shy girl who planned to pursue an accounting degree.

Carter and Pinkston, now seniors, started their college careers like average students.

But in their four-year stay at Western, things changed. And even though they broke up, they’ re bound to one another forever.

They are now Mommy and Daddy.

Pinkston and Carter are the parents of 1-year-old Alexis. And they’ve had to learn how to accept working together as parents though their relationship is over.

Their new schedules and responsibilities have been hard to balance along with being students. However, both say that being parents to Alexis has made them better people.

Pinkston started college with a very full schedule. He was recruited to play football but also wanted to pursue a journalism career.

Journalism was his first love – his talent for football allowed him to pursue his dream of being a journalist. He said being a football player distanced him from that dream.

“There’s so many things that you might not have done or ever seen before,” Pinkston said. “I was influenced by those other things that weren’t my first priority.”

Carter stayed focused on her first priority – school.

“I studied a lot my freshman year,” she said. “And I did go to Bible study and campus activities.”

Pinkston’s social life was not as tame. He said he partied every weekend and didn’t focus on school. But his life changed forever when Carter called him with some news.

“She gave me a call and said ‘I’m late’,” he said. “I said, ‘What, you mean late for work?’ She said ‘no, my friend hasn’t come yet.'”

Pinkston said he told her to take a pregnancy test to be certain that she was pregnant.

Carter informed him that she was pregnant the night after a football game.

Carter said she immediately realized what being a mother would mean.

“I was always going to have a child by my side,” she said. “And now I was going to have less time for class and school.”

At first, Pinkston said he was not worried about being a father because he loves children. He said he was more concerned about his parents’ reaction and his reputation.

“My father was the first person I told,” he said. “His reaction kind of surprised me because I thought he would be real angry.”

His stepfather, William Pinkston, was not angry, but he said he was shocked. He said the whole family cried when they got the news.

“(Antwon) was also crying,” William said. “That showed me that he knew his life was going to change.”

William was supportive and told Antwon to prioritize in order to make the baby come first.

Antwon’s mother, Sabrina, was supportive yet disappointed. She knew Antwon was in a serious relationship but hoped he would have been more responsible.

“His Dad and I took pride in our kids,” she said. “We talked to him. We asked him to be protected and ready.”

Sabrina knew what her son was about to face. Like Antwon, she was 20 years old and in college when she was pregnant with him.

“I knew it would be hard,” she said. “My parents helped take care of him emotionally and financially.”

Sabrina said she did not want him to be a father at that time, but she gave Antwon the same support her parents gave her.

Carter’s mother, Minine, was just as shocked as the Pinkstons to hear that she would be a grandmother. Still, she supported her daughter.

“All children are blessings, so I encouraged her and helped her,” Minine said.

She said she commended Tiffany for continuing her education. Tiffany went home for doctor’s appointments but primarily remained in Bowling Green during the pregnancy.

“Being away from her family was hard, but she wanted to go through the struggle by herself,” Minine said.

Tiffany said sometimes the struggle was hard.

“People were judging us, so we ended up breaking up,” she said.

Antwon did not let the break-up or awaiting the birth of Alexis slow down his fast-paced social life.

“When she was pregnant, it was still me living in this dream world,” he said. “I was like, ‘well, it’s going to happen later.'”

The partying continued and Pinkston’s role on the football team became his first priority.

On May 14, 2002, the party stopped when Alexis was born.

Pinkston said the arrival of Alexis opened his eyes to the mistakes he had made.

“Being young, 20-years-old, I’m wanting things for myself,” he said. “I had to realize it’s not all about me.”

After realizing their responsibilities, Antwon and Tiffany knew there were changes to be made.

“It’s been hard. It’s a challenge,” Carter said. “It’s caused me to grow up, stand tall and take care of myself and my child.”

For herself and her child, Tiffany moved back to Lexington to take classes at the University of Kentucky for a semester. She said it wasn’t an easy transition, but her family helped.

When Tiffany returned to Western for the spring 2003 semester, Pinkston was still playing a role on the football team. Despite football’s time commitment, he wanted to make time for Alexis.

“My thing was, I wanted to make sure she knew who her father was,” Pinkston said.

He said he spent whatever time he could playing with Alexis and reading to her. He said the hardest part of fatherhood was learning to change diapers.

But he said it helped that he loves kids.

Tiffany is now taking 15 hours of classes and working 16 hours a week at Student Life in Potter Hall. Her day begins at 6 a.m. and ends around 11 p.m.

Antwon is finished playing football, so now he devotes a lot of his time – especially on the weekends – to Alexis, even though he’s taking 18 hours of classes.

“After I come back from class between 12 and 1:15, I just spend time with her until 8, then I study,” he said.

Antwon and Tiffany have agreed to work together in order to create corresponding schedules.

“We taught each other,” Antwon said. “She knew more than I did of what (Alexis) did like and what she didn’t like.

“I give her so much credit because the child is with her 90 percent of the time. My job is going over there getting things that she needs and spending time with her, but she’s doing a hell of a job.”

After graduation, Antwon wants to play football or work for Vibe magazine. Tiffany plans to be an accountant.

“People tell me to keep going, it’s all going to pay off in the future,” she said. “Grasp every bit of time and make sure it’s meaningful to Alexis.”

Reach Stephanie Toone at [email protected]