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‘Thicker Than Water’
To understand the man you see on television, you must know his journey. After injury derailed his short-lived NBA career, he turned to music, and excelled, at times performing 200 gospel concerts in a year. Tankard is deservedly known as the Godfather of the Gospel Jazz, with 12 Stellar awards and several gold records, he proves that faith and hard work still works. He can also spot talent, having discovered then-unknown gospel singer Yolanda Adams.
The famous husband to wife, Jewel and father of Benji, Brooklyn, Britney, and Cyrene Tankard puts the TV show in perspective. He says the TV cameras come into the family home from 9am to 9pm and shoot about 100 hours of footage for a one-hour show, ‘you have to trust God that it comes out as intended.’
Part of the show’s appeal is the lifestyle of the Tankards. The mansion, luxury vehicles, and private plane have drawn some criticism of the show’s values. I asked Dr. Tankard, pastor of the Destiny Center about the critics.
“The success was not overnight for me. I think we are at a crossroads. We need more positive enduring role models and when we see it we need to applaud it.” He went on to say “people don’t know how I donate my time as a pastor, that I gave away about 18 cars to those in need.”
Aware of the power of his platform, he hopes those who watch his show come away with two messages.
“I hope people take away two things from the show. Number one is that one you have to fight for your family and the second thing is that we hope people start dreaming again. We all want to aspire to something better, we want people to dream.”
Now when it comes to health, the big man says, ‘we [black men] are the worst ones in taking care of ourselves. And I’m preaching to the choir, preaching to myself. When it comes to diet, I’ve eaten everything from chitlins to possum.’ But at age 50, he’s committed to being healthier.
“I lost about 32 lbs last year. I drink my eight glasses of water, V-8 juice, and I avoid carbonated drinks. I eat very little dessert and I workout 3-4 times a week. And because I like basketball, I play full-court basketball with friends in the area.”
Ben Tankard is not your average reality TV star. His faith and hard work have yielded great success and a loving family. But even in what he calls semi-retirement, he is launching his “Full Tank” big and tall men’s clothing line and writing a new self-help book entitled The Full Tank Life.
Walker Tisdale is the founder and editor-in-chief of Healthyblackmen.org. He resides in Atlanta, GA.