That handful of a last name was a memorable one to NFL fans who followed the league during the 2000s, when Pro Bowl wide receiver TJ Houshmandzadeh was busy catching passes for the Cincinnati Bengals alongside Chad Johnson.
More than a decade after catching his last pass and some 15 years since leading the league in receptions, the 44-year-old father of four can now say he’s a fan. Of a different sport: softball.
He has two daughters who are both on the LSU softball team and looking to do something he never accomplished as a pro or college athlete: win a championship.
Kennedi & Karrington Houshmandzadeh’s LSU Careers
The Houshmandzadeh sisters aren’t the flashiest players in Baton Rouge. They’re not the stars of the team like, say, Ciara Briggs or Ali Kilponen.
But that doesn’t mean that don’t have an interesting story behind them. Each time they take the field in purple and gold, they are making their father proud.
Karrington wears No. 84 — the same number their dad wore in the NFL during his 11-year career that compiled more than 7,000 receiving yards and 44 touchdowns. Kennedi wears No. 18 — the number their dad wore in college at Oregon State before becoming a seventh-round pick in the 2001 NFL Draft.
Karrington explained to the LSU Reveille that wasn’t exactly planned.
“He never was like, ‘Oh, you have to wear my number.’ It was just a thing. When I didn’t have a number, I was just like, ‘I’ll be dad’s number,’ so it stuck,” Karrington said.
Softball wasn’t a sport TJ was familiar with, but when he saw his daughters take an interest in it at a young age, he learned it. Soon enough, the man who made more than $20 million catching passes was coaching their softball teams.
By the time they were old enough and TJ could see they had next-level talent, he was the coach of an elite club softball team called Firecrackers-TJ Housh.
“My kid started playing it and I start watching it on TV now. My wife had a cousin who was playing on Oklahoma State. We’re going to watch her play and it just became an obsession,” TJ told FloSoftball. “So I learned as much as I could so I could teach my kid the right way to do things because me being a professional athlete. To me the athletes that have the technique to fall back on tend to last longer. And so I’m big on doing things the right way.”
Karrington Houshmandzadeh was the first in Louisiana. The redshirt junior doesn’t get a ton of at-bats for head coach Beth Torina’s Tigers, but she comes in to play defense as an outfielder. Occasionally Kari will come into a game as a pinch runner, as she’s racked up numerous stolen bases for LSU during her time as a Tiger. Kennedi Houshmandzadeh is a sophomore who also plays sparingly, seeing a few innings of defensive action as an infielder. She did, however, hit a home run against Nicholls in March, the first of her NCAA career.
The girls from Los Alamitos High School in Cerritos, California, traveled a long way to play college softball. LSU finds itself in the thick of the SEC at 24-16 (5-7 SEC), but considering the school’s track record it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Tigers back in Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series for the first time since three-straight appearances from 2015-17.
You can bet TJ Houshmandzadeh will be right there in the stands cheering on his girls if that happens.