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Jazz's Rodney Hood celebrates son's birthday with matching T-shirts

SALT LAKE CITY — Just moments after a disappointing loss to the New Orleans Pelicans Wednesday, a tiny toddler entered the Utah Jazz locker room in search of his father.

The media cleared a path as Rodney Hood Jr. stretched his arms to be picked up by his 6-foot-8, 206-pound dad.

He didn’t care that Jazz guard Rodney Hood struggled mightily with two points on 1-for-10 shooting in 32 minutes off the bench.

All “JR” cared about was seeing his No. 1 role model on his second birthday.

“It put things in perspective,” Hood explained, holding his son. “Bad days, good days, you’re going to have that at work. You come home and he light up when he sees you and you spend time with him, you know it’s more important.

After removing his No. 5 Jazz uniform then showering, Hood sported a matching Lion King shirt that read “Daddy of the Birthday Boy” as he answered questions with young “JR” on his hip. They also wore a pair of identical wheat Air Jordan 13 sneakers.

The 25-year-old then strolled into the Vivint Arena hallway where his wife, Richa, and other family and friends awaited him for candid photos.

Rodney Jr. was born around 9 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, the day after a 32-point performance in an overtime win against the Memphis Grizzlies. He admitted to being scared initially with Rodney Jr. being born six weeks early, but the young man is now healthy and a regular visitor inside the Jazz locker room after wins and losses.

“You’re providing for him,” Hood said. “You’re teaching him right from wrong and seeing him grow everyday really means a lot to me.”

Pretty soon, JR won’t be the only child. The Hoods are expecting twins in late March or April, with a girl and a boy. The girl’s name will be Riley while the boy’s name will likely be Rich — in honor of his wife’s father, but those aren’t 100 percent official yet.

As the countdown continues, Hood is excited especially with the newborn babies arriving near the summertime so he’ll get to spend a lot of time with them. His teammates, Joe Ingles and Derrick Favors, are also fathers of twins.

“I’m still not changing diapers,” Hood said, laughing. “It’ll be fun. I’m a family guy. I’ve always been a family guy, so it’ll be good.”

But Wednesday was all about Rodney Jr. and the smile on his face is what keeps things in perspective. Wins and losses are cool, but family is his top priority.

“I think that’s what keeps me sane in this job,” Hood said.