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Ciara was photographed by Ben Watts in Barbados. Bodysuit by Mugler. Bottoms by JADE Swim.

Ciara was photographed by Ben Watts in Barbados. Bodysuit by Mugler. Bottoms by JADE Swim.

When I was a kid my dad would always say, “Why not you? Why not you?” Years later I met Ciara and realized that was the exact same question she had asked herself—subconsciously and consciously—when she was growing up. We also started talking about our goals and found common ground there, too: We agreed one day we’d like to open a school and write a book.

That first goal came to fruition last year when we opened the Why Not You Academy, a tuition-free public high school outside of Seattle, with the aim of opening doors to kids from less-fortunate backgrounds. When Ciara and I visited during the opening of the school, it was amazing to see how excited the students were to have her there. She didn’t just speak to them. She spoke life into them. She told them to write out their goals, to envision what’s next—and then to go out and do it. What struck me was the glow and smiles on the kids’ faces, then and in the moments that followed, when we checked in and had the students share their progress toward reaching their dreams.

That’s what my wife does. She inspires people because she connects with them. She tilts rooms when she walks into them; it really seems like all the furniture just slides her way. Maybe it’s an interaction with a fan, where she’ll suggest they take a selfie together before the fan can even ask. Or it might be a far more serious situation. I remember our first visit to Seattle Children’s Hospital, when a mother of a boy who was ill held on to her for a good five minutes without letting go. That’s the kind of woman Ciara is—a ray of light.

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Everybody knows about Ciara’s ability to dance. Sometimes I think that’s a metaphor for how she lives her life. She doesn’t just dance to entertain people. No, she dances to make the world dance with her, to spread energy and positivity.

She’s the same way with her music. It’s not a way to make a living, but rather it’s her gift to the world. So it has to be perfect. When she was nine months pregnant she was still writing “Level Up.” Literally the day she gave birth to our daughter, Sienna, she was still editing her songs, wanting them to be the best they could be. She’s relentless.

It’s hard to be a perfectionist, especially when you’re doing so many things—writing music, running her own record label, helping run our fashion line House of LR&C (that’s love, respect and care). But Ciara still finds time—or makes time if it’s not there—to have our kids be the center of her world. She drives them to school, sees them off to practice, makes them chicken tenders (something they always ask for) and just spends quality time with them. When she’s getting hair and makeup done, she’ll let Sienna hop in her chair and go first. She’s doing the same thing with the kids she does with everyone else she meets: projecting her aura onto them. All of our kids have tender souls because Ciara is the same exact way with them.

As you can probably tell, I’m incredibly proud of my wife. And now that she’s on the cover of SI Swimsuit, that’s one more thing for me to take pride in. I know it’s something she’s always wanted. And I know she’ll use the visibility that comes with being on the cover to inspire even more people—not only as a mother and the beautiful angel and the powerful woman that she is, but also as the businesswoman
that she is, the fashion icon that she is.

A few months ago, we were able to cross that second common goal off our list when we received hardcover copies of our children’s book. As we held the book in our hands for the first time, we looked at each other and reflected on how far we’d come. After looking through it ourselves, we ran over to the kitchen with the kids and said, “Guys, we’ve got a really big surprise for you.” We read it to them, and they loved it. It delighted us that they not only enjoyed it, but that they got a message out of it as well—the same message that I’ve lived by, the same message that my passionate, amazing wife has lived by. It’s right there on the cover, in the title: Why Not You?

Ciara, you are the greatest gift in the world! I love you.

You can view the 2022 photo shoot for Ciara here.