Colts’ Malik Hooker continues to make mom proud

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – After a celebratory Thursday evening shared by family and friends at the family residence in New Castle, Pa., Angela Dennis found herself in a quiet moment.

It was Friday morning, and the reality of what had transpired the night before finally was sinking in.

“I cried this morning just from the excitement of the day,’’ Dennis said. “I knew we were coming here.’’

“Here’’ was the Colts’ West 56th Street headquarters, the home-away-from home for her son – Malik Hooker – for the foreseeable future. The self-described “mama’s boy’’ was the latest addition to the roster, a ball-hawking safety from Ohio State and the 15th overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft.

As Dennis and a handful of family and friends looked on from the periphery, Hooker stepped behind a podium and addressed the local media.

He undoubtedly made mama proud. Again.

“There’s no greater feeling than seeing him here,’’ Dennis said.

Hooker’s journey from one-year starting safety at Ohio State to first-round draft pick to the Colts’ team headquarters was ignited by a phone call from the Colts Thursday night and completed with a trip on owner Jim Irsay’s private jet.

“When the call came, I saw that it was Indiana and I knew they were up next,’’ Hooker said. “So automatically I just got chills down my back.

“My mom was looking at the phone before I was, so she started looking at me and I answered the phone and the secretary told me she was with the Indianapolis Colts. From there it was just, I was just in the clouds honestly.

“It was like everything happened so fast. The next thing you know I’m on the jet flying here, meeting the coaching staff and everything. To be considered a professional football player, and it seems like I just started playing college football just recently. It’s just surreal to me still.’’

Hooker and his entourage were given the grand tour of the team complex. The group included his mother; his father, Jermaine Hooker; sister Jazelle Dennis; and close friends Moddie Fitzpatrick and Corey Eggleston.

“I got here probably about 30 minutes ago,’’ Hooker said. “It’s just unbelievable that it played out the way it did and I’m here in Indianapolis.

“I didn’t think it’d happen this fast. I knew eventually I’d end up being a pretty good player just because of coach (Greg) Schiano. He did a great job of prepping me for the season and the next level as well. I just didn’t imagine it’d happen as fast as it did.

“It’s just a dream come true. I didn’t know whether it was going to be basketball or football, but I just always had a dream of me becoming a professional player, whatever sport I chose. And then my family being a big part of it and supporting me through it and being able to witness me becoming a professional, it was just always a dream for me.

“And then for me to be able to be here living the dream that I always had with my family here like I dreamed of, it’s just a blessing.’’

Mom’s pride in her son was on display early Thursday, the calm before the storm created by the NFL Draft. Hooker visited the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. He spent time with youngsters, many battling cancer.

“I just wanted to go there and share my day with the less fortunate kids, kids that unfortunately get sick with cancer, sickle cell or something like that.

“Just put a smile on their face. I knew my day would be smiles all day, so I wanted to brighten somebody else’s up.’’

His mom had additional motivation.

“My aunt is currently going through a leukemia battle as well,’’ Dennis said. “We wanted to give back to the community in that way. Like I told him, you cant’ take things in this life for granted.

“You help those who maybe can’t do what you’re doing right now. You have to go back and give back to the community.’’