By Joanna Turner

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Stephanie Twyman with son Jaylen Twyman, 199th NFL Draft pick in the sixth round for the Minnesota Vikings
Courtesy of Stephanie Twyman


The following is a Hyattsville Life & Times (HL&T)  interview with Stephanie Twyman, Hyattsville resident and mother of Jaylen Twyman, who was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL draft with the 199th overall pick. He was drafted on May 1. Jaylen is 21 years old, born July 19, 1999. (The interview has been edited for length and readability.)


HL&T: What do you remember about being Jaylen’s mother when he was little?

ST: From the time Jaylen was born, he was very active and he drove me crazy! He always played football. Back then, he had an older brother, Kenyata, who he played with. He was a force to reckon with. In high school, H.D. Woodson in Washington, D.C., he won a lot of championships. All the teachers and coaches loved him.


HL&T: Do you have any advice for mothers of talented/athletic children?

ST: Yes. Let them live out their dreams. Be their biggest fan and supporter. Always be supportive of them. Always be at their games. Be interactive with the coaches. Make sure they stay in school and do what they’re supposed to do to get to the next level. I would always tell him — God first, school, and then football. When looking for a college to attend [for Jaylen], we did a college tour and we picked the University of Pittsburgh. We did because they had a wonderful system as far as your health and medical issues. They had a way of spotting an injury before it occurred. By the time Jaylen was in the 12th grade, he had over 30 college offers — full scholarships. So, I never had to pay a penny for college. That was because he kept up his grades. That’s why they have to pay attention in class, and then dominate on the football field.


HL&T: What are you most proud of about him or about your parenting?

ST: I always listen to what my children have to say. I let them voice their opinion and then we talk about it. I wasn’t given the Blue Book on parenting. My parents weren’t there for a lot of my life. It was God who led me into being a good parent and to understanding my boys.


HL&T: Is there anything you wish you had done differently?

ST: No.


HL&T: What was it like waiting for the NFL Draft pick?

ST: Oh, we were so anxious and nervous! Because he thought he would go earlier in the draft. He was a little overweight; his agent told us he would probably go fifth or sixth round. On Sunday, when they finally called him, he was crying — we had 32 hats set up for each team in the NFL. When he grabbed the Vikings hat, we just started crying, and my mom started praying. I never experienced anything like that! It was an unforgettable moment.


HL&T: How does Hyattsville fit into the story right now for your family?

ST: We moved from Largo to Hyattsville on Feb. 24, 2019. We liked the house; it was nice. I didn’t purchase at the time. Hyattsville is pretty peaceful. It’s convenient, and everybody delivers to my house. There are a lot of beautiful single-family homes here. My 16-year-old son goes to DeMatha Catholic High School. He has a scholarship there. He’s in the 10th grade and is into football as well.


HL&T: Why did you move here?

ST: We moved to Hyattsville because it was a little more affordable with the same amenities. Housing in Largo is anywhere from $300 to $500 more than in Hyattsville, which is not even a five-minute ride away.


HL&T: Finally, how does your faith in God play a part in all of this?

ST: Well, I’ve always had a strong faith in God. I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed. Ever since Jaylen was small, he would ask my mother about God. He’s been baptized twice. We know that without God, none of this is possible. I’ve always trusted God, and I’m thankful God gave him the gift of football. Without God, we’re nobody. I just give Him the praise, and I have faith that Jaylen will have a successful career and that he’ll be able to give back. We’re trusting God.