The Trufants: Tacoma's first family of football
ERIC D. WILLIAMS | STAFF WRITER
Lloyd Trufant gazes out his living room window and follows a water skier as she skips across Lake Steilacoom.
“Little cold for that,” he says.
Then he glances over at the 19-foot MasterCraft boat he picked up recently, covered by a tarp in the driveway, a project for another summer.
The Trufants’ lakefront home is a product of the success of their oldest son, Marcus, a Pro Bowl cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks and a former Washington State standout. Marcus’ two younger brothers have followed in his footsteps, even playing the same position. Little brother Desmond starts at cornerback for the Washington Huskies, while Isaiah plays for the Las Vegas Locomotives in the United Football league.
It’s football season in the Trufant home, and that means loading up the “plum crazy” purple Dodge Charger for a Saturday trip to Husky Stadium to watch Desmond and the Huskies, or heading to Qwest Field in the crimson Hummer on Sundays to see Marcus and the Seahawks.
Or sometimes it’s a longer trip, like hopping on a plane to see Isaiah play for Las Vegas or to watch the Seahawks play in New Orleans.
Whatever the destination, Lloyd and Constance Trufant will be watching one of their three sons play the sport they love – not a bad way for a retired couple to spend a fall weekend.
“Now that there’s three of them playing, you really have to get the schedule out,” said Constance. She calls them “My Three Sons”, a nod to the 1960s TV show of the same name. “Seahawks, UFL, Huskies – where are we going to be? So it’s a challenge working the schedule, but it’s fun because we like football. And we’ll be there.”
For the Trufant boys, Tacoma natives who all prepped at Wilson High, their weekends are filled with dueling text messages and TV watching as they keep up, critique and try to outdo the others’ exploits on the field.
So says Isaiah, who at 27 still holds onto the dream of joining Marcus in the NFL.
“That’s a weekly thing,” he said. “We check up on each other and see how things went. Even if we don’t get to catch the game, we catch up to see how they played, to see how the flow of the game went.
“I definitely try to get to a TV or the Internet to try and catch the game. And when they make a play, I’m up and getting hyped about it.”
Lloyd is the traffic controller, making sure each son has arrived safely in the city they are playing in or returned home.
“I communicate a lot with them, and they’re all in different places right now,” Lloyd said. “We talk every day. I take my time out to call them and see how they are doing and what’s happening with them. When they fly out of town I need to know when you touch down – stuff like that. So we keep that going. Don’t just leave town and wind up in a different state and I don’t even know where you’re at or if you even made it there. So they take that serious. We check in, and I like that.”
Constance had her eyes on Lloyd from the first time she saw him playing bass and singing in an R&B cover band at Tacoma-area haunts like the Caballeros Club and Top of the Ocean.
When Lloyd played, Constance usually showed up.
“I didn’t realize she was stalking me,” joked Lloyd.
“He had a good look – a good dresser,” Constance said. “He was pretty flashy. He would wear some of these hats with the fur around it, the white fur, and the big platforms – flashy for that era. ... And then when we met he was just a nice guy, so everything kind of came together.”
Originally from just outside New Orleans in Plaquemines Parish, Lloyd arrived in the Tacoma area by way of the U.S. Army, where he served in special services. He earned the nickname “Brotha Chilly,” later shortened to just “Chill,” for the cool way his fellow soldiers thought he strutted around camp.
“If you let him tell it he’s the coolest man on earth,” Marcus said. “That’s kind of how it’s always been. He’s always been cool, laid-back.
That’s kind of how he raised us. We all have that type of personality. And that’s how we are. We’re all kind of chill, kind of laid back. But on the field we hit that switch, and we go get it.”
Both parents come from big families. Lloyd is the second oldest in a family of 10 offspring, dominated by seven brothers. Constance comes, by way of Dallas, from a family of seven sisters.
They raised their three boys on working-class wages, Lloyd as a framer at Milgard Windows, and Constance working 25 years as a manager for the Social Security Administration before retiring.
They placed an emphasis on establishing tight bonds with their children. The focus of their marriage was taxiing the boys to football, soccer and basketball practices, beginning at the Al Davies Boys and Girls Club.
“It was just all about the kids,” Constance said. “We were raising the kids, and all of our energy was spent toward doing what they wanted to do in sports and in school to just make them the best people they could possibly be.
“And so that was just our motto, and to be together as husband and wife, to raise our three kids together. So it’s like the vows were serious, they meant something to us and we stuck with it, and kept those family values to respect your parents, respect one another and respect people out there in the world.”
The couple celebrated their 30th anniversary in May.
That family focus has been passed down to their sons. Marcus and his wife Jessica have three daughters, Karmyn, Kimora and Kennadi. Isaiah has one son, 18-month-old Akaius, with partner Neveah.
“I have great parents, so the first thing I wanted to do was to be able to take care of them,” Marcus said. “They worked hard, and they worked for a long time to allow me to do the things I did growing up. We’re still tight, and I take a lot of advice from my mom and dad, and I still listen to them almost like I’m a little kid. There’s a lot of respect there, and that will always be there.”
And his parents appreciate it.
“It’s big for me,” said Lloyd. “Just look at what they’re doing for us nowadays. We did for them, and they feel like they owe us so much. They don’t mind helping us out. To me, I don’t want for nothing nowadays. And my kids are there for us, and that’s good to know.
“A lot of kids, once they get into things like money and stuff, they feel like they don’t need their parents no more. We still have a tight family relationship with our kids.”
A DASH OF HOT SAUCE
They started out racing in the street outside their north end home, Isaiah, Marcus and Lloyd trying to outsprint one another.
Later they moved to the basketball court or to the playground for an impromptu football game. Desmond, 10 years younger than Marcus, joined in as he got older.
The battles were always civil, but ultra-competitive. No one wanted to lose.
“I used to watch them in the street,” Lloyd said. “They would get out there at the other house and compete just to see who was the fastest. And one would win, and then the other one would win. And that would go on and on.”
So how did those Trufants get so fast? Constance has a theory.
“We tell them it’s the hot sauce,” she said. “It’s the Louisiana hot sauce and the Tabasco sauce that gave them their wheels. We’ve always been with the Louisiana cooking and the spices. So there’s something in that sauce.
“That’s the only consistent thing other than genealogy.”
The speed genes almost certainly came from Lloyd, who played baseball and ran track in high school. He said he didn’t play football in Louisiana because his school couldn’t afford equipment. In baseball, he earned another nickname “Wheels,” because of his ability to beat out almost any ground ball.
“Mama and daddy should be proud – they might want to sell their stuff on eBay,” joked Seahawks safety and Tacoma native Lawyer Milloy.
Wilson football coach Don Clegg benefited from all that speed. Clegg coached all three Trufants for the Rams, and said along with rare athletic ability, they also played with great anticipation.
“They just have a sixth sense on where plays are going to develop,” Clegg said.
And because of that, Clegg said they had the perfect skills to play cornerback.
“All of them do because they all have the three things in common – great feet, great hips and great hand-eye coordination. And they’ve got very good foot speed.”
No kidding. Isaiah ran the 40-yard dash in 4.32 seconds at Eastern Washington. Desmond ran the fastest time of any Husky during spring drills at 4.33. And Marcus ran a 4.38 at the NFL scouting combine coming out of Washington State, but admits to being a step slower – he turns 30 on Christmas Day.
“We’re all fast,” Marcus said. “I’m the older brother, so I’ll probably run somebody over before I let them beat me across the finish line.”
All three excelled in track, too. Marcus took second in state in the triple jump his senior year, leaping 47 feet, 71/2 inches. Not to be outdone, both Desmond and Isaiah took second in state in the triple jump as well with marks over 46 feet. Isaiah is the smallest at 5-feet-8, but is blessed with Nate Robinson-like jumping ability.
Clegg described the three this way:
• “Marcus was an extremely humble person who actually kind of blossomed into his own. He worked extremely hard to make himself good. He was always a great competitor. He was in a class that had great athletes. He always knew his role to play, and always was a team guy.”
• Isaiah “was the quickest of foot of the three of them. A lot of people say if you’re small you can’t play football. Don’t tell that to Isaiah. His heart and competitiveness were outstanding. Because he was so small, he really overcame a lot of things. He was extremely competitive, never backed down from anybody, and he was extremely tough.”
• “Desmond always had to prove he was the best of the three. He was very competitive that way. Desmond was a little more jovial, outspoken and had a little more of a chip on his shoulder because he had something to prove – a little more salty.”
Clegg wouldn’t mind seeing a few more Trufants.
“I’ve been very blessed to be able to coach all three of them,” Clegg said. “When you have three athletes like that from one family, they’ve got to be some good genes from mom and dad. But most important, they were willing to go beyond their athleticism to try and be good citizens and good students, which opened up the door for them to be great athletes and great people.”
Marcus signed a six-year, $50.2 million contract after his best season in 2007, when he finished with a career-high seven interceptions and went to the Pro Bowl.
Set financially, Marcus looked after his family, buying the couple their waterfront home in Lakewood.
And giving back to the community also has been a focal point. He created the Marcus Trufant Family Foundation, which Constance helps run and the rest of the family is involved in. Programs they support include scholarship renewal programs for Tacoma-area students, and programs like the Al Davies Boys and Girls Club that all three sons participated in as kids.
Said Constance: “We want kids to dream, realize their dream and get help along the way knowing that your dreams can change, and that they can come true.”
Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has seen first-hand the things the Trufants have done in the community as a participant in some of their charity events.
“He’s always got an event,” Hasselbeck said of Marcus. “It’s almost like the running joke in the locker room how Tru’s always got some charity event that he’s asking guys to help him out with, and he does a nice job. He does a good job. He’s definitely giving back, and it’s a cool thing to see, that a guy who stayed local and played for his local team really does a nice job both on the field and off the field.”
Milloy has been a regular participant in the fundraising events, and he appreciates the Trufants’ efforts.
“I know what it’s like growing up in Tacoma, and not too many of us make it out in a positive way,” he said. “And to have three kids doing well, I think their parents should hold their heads up high.
“They did something right. Just to see their bond when we go to their charity events and see how close they are, it reminds me of my family and what we’ve been through to get there.
“His parents are very respectful. It’s not like they’re trying to take his limelight. That’s what you need. Once you make it, you need support out of your family, not problems. And what I’ve seen from his mother and father, and his siblings looking up to him, obviously they’re trying to add to his success instead of taking from it.”
The Trufants are on the road again this weekend, in New Orleans to watch Marcus and the Seahawks take on the Saints this afternoon.
Lloyd, who grew up 20 minutes south of the city, said he’s expecting more than 50 family members to attend the game.
The parents had already attended the Huskies’ 24-7 win over UCLA on Thursday, then watched Isaiah and Las Vegas lose to the Hartford Colonials, 27-14, on television Saturday.
So it’s another weekend full of football for the family.
“With Desmond being 10 years behind Marcus and eight behind Isaiah, Desmond caught up,” Constance said. “That’s life. The young ones do grow up. So with his brothers still being active and in sports, it’s amazing when you think about that.
“That this little boy, now he is playing college ball – so all three of the sons are doing the same thing. I really just applaud them, and I thank God, and I just feel blessed that this is going on with them. This is their life, this is our life and it’s great.”
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437