Ihedigbo is the mother of James Ihedigbo, a safety on the Super Bowl-bound Baltimore Ravens. Rose Ihedigbo emigrated to the United States from Nigeria in 1980 and has written the book "Sandals in the Snow" about her journey. She resides in Maryland.
Tell me how your family ended up in America. In 1979, my husband left Nigeria to go to Houghton College in New York, leaving me and my three little ones. James was not born yet. In 1980, I left with my three children, and when we got into JFK it was in the middle of winter, and that's how I got the title of my book. It was the first time I had seen snow. It was mesmerizing. The only place I had read about snow was in the Bible. ... We made a commitment that if we come into the U.S. and became successful, we would go back to Nigeria and start a school that would help the helpless ones. After graduating [from University of Massachusetts], my husband went back to Nigeria to start the school, and while he was there he died in 2000 of heart issues. James was graduating from high school.
What has it been like watching James excel in football while coping with that loss? In all of his games from high school up until now, I missed a couple this year, but I had not missed any games. I promised I would be there for him, especially when he lost his father. I have been there for him, and he appreciates that. And in 2008, in the memory of his father, he started the HOPE Africa Foundation.
And to see him play in the Super Bowl? It's amazing. It's out of one in a million that he will have this opportunity, and I am very grateful.
Are you a nervous mom? Every game is nerve-racking. ... When he wins, I'm a happy mom. Win or lose, I encourage him, but we're going to win the Super Bowl.
- Steve Contorno