Buffalo Bills

Women of the Buffalo Bills: Interview with Lorenzo Alexander’s Mother, Stephanie Moore (aka “Mama Zo”)

Before I was old enough to play sports, I was fascinated by what Professional Athletes were capable of. Then, when I was old enough to play, I was flabbergasted by the amount of skill and dedication it took for them to play at that level. But, it wasn’t until I became a parent that I really gave any thought to how they got where they were.

They didn’t get there without a great deal of support from somewhere and supporting young athletes is no easy feat. From the get-go, it can be the most demanding experience of your life but also the most rewarding… and not monetarily. I can tell you, first hand, that there’s really no feeling like the one you get from watching your kids play their favorite sports. 

That’s why I was so thrilled to be able to sit down and chat with the woman behind the One Man Gang, Ms. Stephanie Moore. Ms. Moore is mother to Lorenzo Alexander, Linebacker for the Buffalo Bills and grandmother to Vanessa, Zoie, Mason, and Myles. She was happy to speak with me, and she was such an absolute joy on the phone. Here are some of the questions from our chat. 

The Interview:

Me: It’s great to see that you’re very active in Lorenzo’s life. We see you posting to support Lorenzo and pictures of your beautiful grandkids on Twitter and Facebook, and I see here that you also work with the ACES Foundation, is that correct? 

Ms. Moore: Correct. He started the foundation as soon as he entered the NFL; so, he’s had the ACES Foundation for awhile. He started the foundation as a way to give back to the youth in Oakland. Now he gives back to whatever community he lives in. And pretty much, now that I’m in Arizona, I’m active–but not as active. I used to run the Camps that were in California. So, he’d host a Camp every year as well as a bowling fundraiser, and I made sure that everything ran smoothly. [Laughs] To be that extra eye, you know… as Mama, just making sure that things are up to par. 

Me: Well, you’re doing a great job! There’s been a huge turnout to the Camps and bowling events, and I know that he’s got that Cornhole tournament coming up, which I’ve heard a lot of buzz about. 

Ms. Moore: Correct. [Laughs] Well, I wish that I could take credit for everything, but Lorenzo has a great support system all the way around. And, not only speaking for myself, but he has an Uncle that helps, and he has a Cousin that helps out in Oakland because it’s based there.

Me: It’s excellent that he has his foundation set up in his home town. Did you grow up in Oakland as well? 

Ms. Moore: I did, from 7th grade. My father was in the military, so I almost kind of lived like Lorenzo does with the moving around. When people ask me, how does he feel about him having to move his kids and his home around periodically, you know, because he’s been on more than one team, and I always compare it to being a “military brat,” as I call myself. [Laughs] So, I lived in several places; but once my father decided to retire, he decided to retire in California because that’s where he and my mother initially met, even though neither was from California, but that’s just kind of where they ended up. So, I’ve actually gone to school in several different states and even started school in Germany. 

Me: Really? 

Ms. Moore: Oh yes. My Kindergarten year. And you know, I always wish they had Twitter, or Facebook… you know, all of the social media outlets that they have now, back then. I have no friends from elementary because we did move around so much. And now, you can kind of keep in touch through social media even if you’re not there face to face. So, I miss that part. But, yeah, in 7th grade, I moved to California; so, I’m a California girl at heart. 

Me: What does it mean to you that Lorenzo has his foundation based in your home town, and he’s generating so much help for that community and so many others? 

Ms. Moore: Right. You know, I’m just happy that with the success that he’s had with the NFL, he hasn’t let it change his character. You know, kids are going to be kids and do things when they’re younger. I look at adults and the role models that are in their lives to teach them. “Okay, you don’t do this, this, and this.” It’s about guidance. For the most part, I have to say that Lorenzo was a good kid. So, growing up, he just kind of transitioned. “Okay, I’m a good kid. Now, I’m going to grow up and be a good adult, a good Husband, a good Father; and give back to the community that I came from.” You know, he wasn’t born with a golden spoon in his mouth. [Laughs] We were far from rich, so, he understands the kid that needs new shoes or someone who needs a little extra help. He had inner help. Not everyone has that inner circle. I have a brother, and he was pretty much like a dad to Lorenzo. He made him be responsible as far as cutting a lawn, you know, to earn your shoes. Like, you don’t just get it. You’ve got to work and understand that things aren’t just given to you. But, yes, he makes me … you just don’t know. I toot all the horns all the time. It just warms my heart. 

Me: Absolutely! And all of that speaks volumes at to how you raised him. I mean, you look at some of the other players in the league, and they are the exact opposite. Makes you kind of wonder. 

Ms. Moore: [Laughs] Oh, I understand exactly what you’re saying. And unfortunately, lots of times, the ones that are doing the wrong things, are the ones that get the piece on ESPN ect., which is the sad part, but it is what it is. [Laughs] You know, as long as my Son is being the best man he can be, you know what? I’m happy.

Me: I’ve noticed that Lorenzo has pretty much been Captain of every team he’s played on. Was that the case for him growing up? 

Ms. Moore: [Laughs] Um, yes. You know … he always wanted to be first. [Laughs] Going back to elementary, he had a problem with not being first in line. If he wasn’t first in line, he’d be upset about it. So, we had to come up with a system where he would have to line up at the end of the line, only because it was an issue for him if he didn’t make it there to be the first one. So, just to show him that just because you’re at the back of the line, you’re still going to get where the front of the line is. So, I think it started there. And then in high school, they had a program that would highlight some of the teams in the area, and, at the end of the year, they did an awards ceremony at the Colleseum in Oakland. They’d invite kids from all over. One time, something happened to their speaker … [Laughs], and at the last minute, they asked Lorenzo to speak. And he was like “Uh, Mom?” I’m like, “No, get on up there”. [Laughs] So, he was thrown into the fire a couple of times. From that, he kind of learned how to speak in front of people, and he just kind of learned to lead, and people just started to gravitate toward him. So, he’s been like that. 

Me: Lorenzo didn’t start playing Football until High School. To be able to jump into it at that age, you have to be extremely athletic. Was he athletic growing up? 

Ms. Moore: He was. But, I have to say the only sport that… and we laugh, now, because his son’s play it… is Soccer. He just could not get the Soccer thing down. [Laughs] I mean, they eventually put him at Goalie, so he wasn’t out there doing all of this crazy stuff that he saw on TV that the pros were doing. [Laughs] That’s really the only sport that he didn’t excel in. Everything else that he was put in … basketball, baseball. Baseball was his first sport. And then, when he was old enough, he did basketball. And, for high school, he was on the only winning championship team for Saint Mary’s College H.S., which is in Berkley. It just seemed like, you know, whatever he touched just turned to gold, kind of like the expression. Things just came around. But, as far as football, he didn’t do that until high school because he was just too big. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that, but he was just too big for his age. They wanted to put him with older kids, and I wasn’t having that. And he really wanted to play because he had Cousins that played, but, I said “NOPE! We’re just doing these other sports until you’re able to be physically the same as your opponent. You’re not going to be 7, playing a 12-year-old!” [Laughs] So, that’s why he didn’t play until he got to be in High School. He was always bigger than everyone from day one, and they always thought he was older. 

Me: Being a big kid, he must’ve been fed very well, and no doubt you had big a hand in that. He’s mentioned that his favorite meal is breakfast. Do you recall his favorite breakfast that you made growing up? 

Ms. Moore: Yes. He loved pancakes. I mean, just breakfast in general, but yeah, he loves his pancakes. Even to this day, that may be the one thing that he can cook and really cook well. We were just talking about that this morning. He was fixing himself an egg with his daughter, and he can actually flip an egg without a spatula. I cannot flip an egg. [Laughs] I’m like, “How did you learn how to flip an egg like that?” [Laughs] And his Son comes through and goes, “Dad, you must’ve been to cooking school or something.” And he was like, “No.” So he literally said, “Mom, I YouTubed it. You put these beans in the skillet, and it’s just kind of a method. And if you flip the beans, you just gotta keep the beans in the skillet without them coming out. And if you can flip the beans, then you can flip an egg. So, that’s how you learn how to do that.” So yes, Breakfast is definitely his favorite. But, I’ve gotta say that the way he used to eat compared to the way he eats now is totally different. I’m like, “Oh my goodness, okay!” [Laughs] For example, he’s into the Keto diet right now. And, although I’ve changed the way I eat as well, we grew up on things like fried chicken, fried chops, everything fried and smothered, mashed potatoes. [Laughs] Not to mention, you’ve gotta put the butter in everything. And he eats completely different from that now. It’s amazing. 

Me: Oh definitely. I mean, to be able to play in this season for 15 years, you have to be pretty careful about what you put in your body. 

Ms. Moore: Right. And he has his cheat days. I’ve cooked him pancakes the way I used to, you know, the way that I know. And he’ll eat, but he doesn’t eat like that all the time. His regular diet is very … he sticks to it, and he even does it in the offseason. He amazes me. I’m like, “Oh my goodness.” Even when he was home during the BYE, even though he was off, he went and worked out while he was here, and his eating patterns were there. And all of it comes second nature to him. You don’t really think about it because that’s just how it is, you know? It’s just different than what he used to do, but that’s what he does, so that’s what he does. 

Me: I noticed in his BYE week Q & A that he’s been having steak for dinner the night before all of our games… and we’ve been winning, so I hope he’s going to keep having steak on Saturday nights. [Laughs] 

Ms. Moore. [Laughs] Yes. You know what, I will mention that to him. 

Me: And, you know, Bills Mafia loves your presence on Twitter. It’s so awesome to see the pictures that you post and the GIFs that you’ve been making! I also saw a comment from @BeCoolFool suggesting that you and Lorenzo do a Campbell’s Soup commercial, and that’s gotten lots of support from people on Twitter. I absolutely love that idea because I think you would be perfect. What are your thoughts on that? 

Ms. Moore: I think so too! [Laughs] It’s just so funny because, I don’t know if you remember, there was one player I can’t remember, but I think it was the Bus. And his mom was just running down the sideline blocking for him while he just ran. I thought that was the cutest commercial ever! And, in fact, Lorenzo wasn’t even playing then, but I told him, “You know what, they took our commercial, Lorenzo, because that would have been perfect for us!” 

Me: Being a mother to little athletes, I have so much respect for everything that moms like you have done for your kids. Getting to that level of competition is amazing, and it’s not an easy feat. What’s some advice that you’d have for the parents of athletes? 

Ms. Moore: Well, thank you! [Laughs] I only have the one, you know. If I had more than one, it would have been a challenge. I would have gotten it done, but I can see how if you have two and they’re not on the same team, like my Grandkids right now… That’s something that I associate that with. When I was in Buffalo recently, they had soccer practice. My granddaughter had dance and something else, so she had to be where she had to be. And then, to get the boys to where they needed to be. And they’re all at different times, and we always gotta leave and be on the run to pick them up. [Laughs] I can see how stressful that would be. But for me, having the one, it was kind of like, “Okay.” It was fun, but it was still a lot because he did play three sports, and sometimes practices overlapped. Or, he’d play on travel teams. He did play, when it came to basketball, he played in a program called PAL. And it was actually the Police Association League, and they sponsored all different sports. They did track, they did basketball, and probably more, but, they sponsored the basketball team that he played for, and they would travel to all sorts of different places in California. 

Me: I noticed that his nickname growing up was “Hook.” Was that from when he played basketball? 

Ms. Moore: [Laughs] Oh my goodness! That came from my brother. Yes, that came from … Ooooh, weee! … That was his very first nickname. I mean, I know that was his first nickname, and I’m trying to think how far back. That might even go as far back as … Well, my brother and I coached Lorenzo’s first tee-ball team, the very first sport that he played. So, I’m thinking it’s from then, but I’m going to need to ask Lorenzo that because that’s how far back that is. [Laughs] I remember they called him “Hook,” and it just kind of stuck with him. The “One Man Gang” didn’t start until he got into the NFL. So, that came later in life, but “Hook” was there, and I don’t think it disappeared until college. [Laughs] But, definitely through High School. 

Me: That’s funny. I kind of thought that it might have been because he played basketball and had a mean hook shot.

Ms. Moore: [Laughs] No. It has nothing to do with hook shots. That’s funny. Actually, his Uncle is a prankster, and he was looking at Lorenzo one day saying that he had a hook on his hand. And it just kind of stuck to where Lorenzo was called “Hook.” [Laughs] So, yeah, that’s where that came from. 

Me: Another neat thing that I noticed was that you owned a daycare for several years. I also noticed that Lorenzo’s first job was at a Babies “R” Us. Did Lorenzo start working there because of that? 

Ms. Moore: Um, no. Actually, that was one of my part-time jobs. I worked for that company for several years, and I also owned a daycare for a number of years. When I worked there, it was Babies “R” Us and Toys “R” Us combined. So, I got him that part-time job there, and after working there over Christmas, he was like, “You know what Mom, I will never be doing this kind of stuff ever again.” [Laughs] Because people would just go and pull stuff off the shelves. Think of like Toys “R” Us at Christmas time, and that’s when he worked there. He didn’t work there during the school season. That right there was his experience in retail, and he said “Nope! I’m not doing this any longer. I will get my degree.” Which he did from UC Berkeley, and he was gonna make sure that he didn’t have to do that again. He did it for one season, and that was his first job. My brother, his name is Steven, he was Lorenzo’s saving grace in a lot of ways. He was the male figure in his life. I mean, he had someone to go to because his dad was not there like he should have been. And, you know, so, hey, as a mom, I did what I had to do, but he was blessed to have his uncle there. He taught him a lot about life, lots of stuff. He could tell him, like, “Okay, cut my grass, and I’ll give you this or that.” You know, he would make him work for it, like the cleats or what have you. But, his uncle was there. So, Lorenzo didn’t want for a lot, but it wasn’t like he had an endless money tree like some kids might have in life. And Lorenzo’s kids are definitely blessed. You know, making them understand that their dad had it different and making them understand that they’re blessed can be a challenge because that’s all they know, but don’t take stuff for granted. 

Me: Did Zo ever do anything that drove you crazy or got on your nerves growing up? 

Ms. Moore: Talking back. Yeah, Lorenzo was mouthy. [Laughs] Yes, Lorenzo, that, I have to say, was the main thing. And he, ooh wee, I wish I would’ve kept his books because when he gets on his kids …. [Laughs] He had these spiral notebooks, and it got to the point where, well, he got he share of spankings, and then I went to… Well, I’m from an era where there were spankings. You know, and it was never bad, but, my son got spanked, okay. And he got to the point where he got so big! [Laughs] He was as big as me looking at me in my eye, and I’m like, “Okay, this is not going to work any longer.” So, we had to come up with something else. I was putting him on time out, and he’d just sit there and twiddle his thumbs, and I was like, “Okay, that did not matter.” Then I got the spiral notebooks, and every time he would do something, he would have to sit and write whatever it was. “I will not…” whatever it was at the time. And he got to the point where he had books. [Laughs] I mean, I had so many of these books! It was just hilarious! And I don’t know what’s happened to them over the years, but, yes, talking back was definitely the main thing. And it worked. I had the perspective that if you did something and were getting punished, like, you can’t go to the party now. Not only does it punish him, but it punishes me too. [Laughs] But, I was really good at the discipline portion of it, you know, because it was just me. My brother did his thing, but, I wanted him to know that, as his mother, what I said went. So I had to establish … “Okay, this is how it is… and you’re going to respect Mom, and that’s just how it’s going to be.” 

Me: [Laughs] Oh my! That’s funny because you’d never imagine anything like that from Lorenzo. 

Ms. Moore: [Laughs] Right. Well, I appreciate that. Yes, he’s definitely completely different. I’ll say again, our jobs as parents or guardians, to me, that’s what our job is. And you can shower kids with whatever gifts, money, whatever. You could have ALL of that, but if you’re not teaching them to be good people, overall, I mean, what is all that gonna do? I mean, what good is having the money if nobody likes you or having the money and nobody wants to be bothered with you. You know, nobody wants to be alone. So, to me, that’s the bottom line for being a good parent. Everything else just kind of falls in line. 

Me: What was your proudest moment when Lorenzo was growing up? 

Ms. Moore: Wow! That’s a tough one. I would have to say graduating from Cal Berkeley. Walking the stage. Getting that diploma. I didn’t graduate from college. I did High School, but I did not go to a University… and Cal Berkeley is not a slouch of a place to get a degree from, so that would be my proudest moment. 

Me: Well, I just want to thank you for taking the time to speak to me today. It’s been a pleasure, and it’s always a pleasure to see you out there on Twitter. And I really hope that we can get that Campbell’s Soup commercial going! 

Ms. Moore: [Laughs] Oh, it was no problem at all, Amanda. Yes, whenever I go on there, and I see someone mentioned it, I just start laughing. [Laughs] You know, I’m glad that you guys just think enough of me to even put it out there. We’re really humbled by that, and I appreciate it. 

Me: Oh, yes! We definitely love having you on Twitter. It’s really cool to see you out there supporting Zo and interacting with the fans. You don’t really see that very often. 

Ms. Moore: [Laughs] I’m trying. You know, I’ve had the account for a long time, actually, but this is the first year that I’ve actually used it. So, I’ve been on there for a while. Lorenzo was trying to show me, a while back, and I was like “I don’t understand this.” You know, it took me a minute, so I decided to try Facebook first. I finally figured out Facebook, and then I did Instagram. So, I’m still on those two and I do a lot with those. But Twitter just seems more … in the moment. And, I’m not really good with in the moment stuff all the time because I like to be in the moment. Like, I got a picture of Lorenzo this morning. [Laughs] We took a picture because I said I need a picture for my Twitter since I’m saying bye to you. So, I got a picture with him and he was like “Mom!” [Laughs] And I just said, “C’mon, let’s take the picture,” and so now I have me a picture. So, you know, I’m figuring it out, but, if you notice, it’s mostly about Lorenzo. To be honest, I’m kind of boring. I don’t do a whole lot. I’m not here, there, and everywhere. [Laughs] With Lorenzo not even being here, just yet … cause you know, this is where they’ll be retiring to … once my Grandkids get here, I’ll be all over. It’s about family. I love being with Family. I’m really just a simple lady. 

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