Football coaches often lead nomadic lives. You coach in one city for a couple years, then move. A few years later, you move again.
Brian Baker has coached on the defensive side of the ball with the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams, Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns and Washington Football Team, among other stops (he also played college football at Maryland, where he was teammates with Frank Reich).
That meant Jade Baker, one of his three daughters, grew up in Detroit, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Dallas — you get the idea.
"It was really hard but I'm much better for it," Jade said in an interview with Colts.com. "It's the reason I'm in the place I am today. It's something that makes you adaptable and it just gives you a lot of resilience. It's just — even though in the time I would've obviously liked to stay in one place or maybe even two or three places instead of the double digits I was getting, looking back on it I'm really grateful for it all.
"I think because I had my parents, who built this really strong foundation and this really strong family value, I knew whenever we moved it would be fine because I would have my sisters and my parents and everything was like a new adventure. It made me not afraid of new situations."
Brian Baker is entering his second season as the Colts' defensive line coach. And Jade Baker, later this year, will become the first Black woman student body president of Georgetown's prestigious law school.
Baker said her experience growing up in so many different communities made a lasting impact on her, especially as she assumes her historic position at Georgetown Law.
"Part of the reason I wanted to go to law school and I'm here now is just because I feel like I understand so many different perspectives," Baker said. "I lived in so many different groups of people, so many different regions of the country, and I've been able to see all of their sides and really get an appreciation for people and not necessarily ideology. And I'm really, really grateful for that."
Baker saw those different perspectives have shaped his daughter up close.
"She's going to have a very good opinion on things based on facts and based on her heart and do things judiciously from that standpoint," Baker said. "… Just trying to do things the right way and make sure things are done the right way even if the right way is different from how they've been done before. She's strong enough to do that. And I'm very proud of that."
Baker remembers seeing early signs of the kind of impact his daughter could have in high school — "The freshmen wanted to be like her," he recalled — but Jade didn't always want to be a lawyer.
She enrolled at the University of Virginia on a track and field scholarship — she still holds the school record for longest hammer throw at 63 meters, 61 centimeters — with the hopes of becoming a sports reporter. Because she was a track and field athlete, she was back at school early in August of 2017 and witnessed a dark moment for our nation up close.
Baker saw what transpired with the white supremacist "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, during which a man drove a car at a high speed into a group of counter-protestors, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.
"That was the moment I decided I wanted to do something more and ultimately landed on law," Baker said. "… Students of UVA met the moment. So as dark of an experience as it was, it also showed me a lot of light and the power of community and collective action."
Baker said she feels like she's taking over in a "perfect storm" at Georgetown. Earlier this month, a Georgetown Law School professor was fired after making racially insensitive comments; Baker noted the juxtaposition of that scandal with Kamala Harris becoming the nation's first Black woman vice president. Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff serves as a professor at Georgetown Law.
And Baker knows the kind of impact she can have as the first Black woman student body president at Georgetown Law, too.
"I just feel an immense responsibility and I'm happy that barrier is shattered so that the next person, it just seems like natural happenstance and nobody even thinks about their race or gender," Baker said. "So I feel grateful for the opportunity."
"… I wasn't the person who wanted to go to law school since they were a kid, I wasn't the person who had the best LSAT score or the best grades in the world. But I just was really passionate about something and put everything toward it and it worked out."
Brian Baker heard from a number of friends, like Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, former RNC chair Michael Steele and Washington Football Team general manager Martin Mayhew, among others, who were ecstatic to see Jade elected to her new position. And in the Baker family, there's an immense amount of pride in Jade's accomplishments — her grandmother "has been bragging to all her choir friends," Brian said.
Jade is one of three Brian and Nevada Baker's daughters — Nicole, the oldest, has a Master's in public health; Jasmine, the youngest, is a student at the University of North Carolina.
"I don't know if there's a prouder dad on the planet because of the way the good Lord blessed all three and the way they've used their blessings," Baker said. … Leaving footprints — I want that for all three girls. They've been really blessed. For whatever reason the good Lord has found favor on my family, and especially the girls moving around as much as they moved around, this thing could've been totally different."
But those footprints Jade has left and is leaving were made possible in part by her upbringing.
"(My dad) just became that role model for who I wanted to be as an athlete, who I wanted to be as a person," Jade said. "He's just such an example of a faith leader in every circumstance he walks into. And as somebody who really cares about making people better than they they found them — not just in coaching but as people. I think that's really admirable and I'm not in athletics anymore, I feel like those are things I've seen him do through his job that I'll take away for the rest of my life."