NBA Star Chris Paul Talks the 'Emotional' Bond He Shares with His Father: He's 'Never Wavered'

Chris Paul tells PEOPLE about how the bond he shares with his father, Charles, inspired him throughout his journey into the NBA and parenthood

Chris Paul exclusive interview with dad
Chris Paul and father, Charles. Photo: Chris Paul/Instagram

For Phoenix Suns' point guard Chris Paul, one person, in particular, has left an indelible mark on his life.

"I think a lot of times, kids grow up with heroes, entertainers, athletes," the NBA star tells PEOPLE over a recent phone call. "But you know, I'm 37 years old now, and my dad is still the ultimate man and person I look up to the most."

For Chris, a 12-time NBA All-Star, his father, Charles Paul, has been an unyielding pillar of support throughout his journey to the NBA and beyond.

"In the world of entertainment and sports, you're always being compared or told this or told that, but the only person's approval that I still really, really care about to this day is my dad," says Chris, who will begin his 18th year in the league this fall.

"It's kind of emotional," he continues. "He's watched every stage of my life and has never wavered, right? He doesn't always tell me what I want to hear regardless of the accomplishment, but he's always been my dad, and I appreciate him for that."

As a father of two, Chris says he tries to apply the lessons he learned from his dad to the way he approaches parenthood. That often involves giving his children "the most amount of love that you could show."

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Chris Paul exclusive interview with dad

Despite his busy NBA schedule, Chris — who shares children, Christopher, 13, and Camryn, 9, with his wife, Jada — says making time for family fun is essential.

"I've got my kids right here," Chris says while laughing over the phone. "Oh boy, I think it was during the pandemic. We try to have as much fun as we can here. They'd be eating in the breakfast nook [and] there was one Friday I just decided to moon them and say, 'Good Mooning!'"

But when he's on the basketball court, Chris has a competitive edge that almost no other NBA player can rival. That competitiveness runs in the family, he says, and is on full display when golfing, bowling, or playing cards with his 61-year-old father.

When they aren't trying to outdo each other, Chris says, the pair know the perfect way to unwind.

"One thing we love to do together is eating," says Chris, who was just named an ambassador for the plant-based food company, Just Egg.

"We love to eat together, which is why this plant-based lifestyle has been so important," he explains. "One of my favorites for a great, easy breakfast is a Just Egg scramble with spinach or zucchini and onions."

Health is one of the primary reasons he wanted to introduce his father to a plant-based lifestyle, says Chris.

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"One day, my dad told me that all of my uncles and aunts were taking blood pressure medicine," he recalls. "I knew [a plant-based diet] could help take care of some cholesterol concerns."

While he doesn't want to pressure anyone into switching to a specific diet, Chris does feel it's important to "be open and willing to try, even if you just introduce one meal a day," he says.

The method is what worked for his father, Charles.

"I didn't think I could do it," Charles, who also serves as president of the Fathers and Men of Professional Basketball Players, tells PEOPLE.

"But the more he talked to me, the more I started making life changes like removing dairy," he adds. "I remember being in Oklahoma once, and I had a case of soda and a bunch of candy bars, and he said, 'Dad, you gotta think about your health.' And I left the candy bars and the soda there, and I came home and started making changes."

Chris tells PEOPLE he plans to stick to a plant-based lifestyle for the long haul — and he couldn't be happier to share the journey with his father.

"Initially, my goal was about performance and basketball, but once I found out all of the health benefits," he says. "I know it's something I'll stick with after my playing career."

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