Aidan Hutchinson And His Family Look Back On The Day He Got Drafted

The city of Detroit is in the spotlight this week, as the 2024 NFL Draft will take place in the Motor City from Thursday to Saturday. This is coming on the heels of the most successful season in recent memory for the city’s NFL team — the Detroit Lions won 12 games for the second time in franchise history, won the NFC North for the first time ever, and made it all the way to the NFC Championship Game.

One of the building blocks for that team was Aidan Hutchinson. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft out of the University of Michigan earned a Pro Bowl nod after a sophomore campaign in the league that saw him register 14 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. He’s rapidly becoming one of the NFL’s premier edge rushers, and if the Lions are going to end up winning a Super Bowl sometime soon — a collection of words that, given their history, hasn’t been said all that often — the Michigan native is going to play a big role.

For now, Hutchinson is getting ready for a week where the city he loves is at the center of the NFL universe. And ahead of Thursday’s festivities kicking off, Uproxx Sports sat down with Hutchinson, his mom Melissa, and his sister Mia to discuss their partnership with Rocket Mortgage, what to do if you’re visiting Detroit this weekend, Draft day, and more.

What do all of you have going on with Rocket Mortgage?

Aidan: We’ve teamed up with Rocket Mortgage, the official mortgage partner of the NFL Draft. Rocket Mortgage is doing a Dreammate campaign. And really, it celebrates the support system we all have in our journeys to achieving our goals, and my dreammates are my family, my sisters, my mom, my dad — my sister and my mom are right here, and really, they’ve been so instrumental in everything that I’ve been able to do in my career. In so many moments of adversity, and so many moments of all these trials and tribulations that life throws at you, I have my dreammates with me to guide me along the way, and show me the way.

Mia: Rocket Mortgage is encouraging everyone to take to social media, and use the hashtag RocketDreammate. And for every use of that hashtag, they are making a donation to support Habitat for Humanity, which is so cool and so important for us to join with brand who cares about the world and the environment and other people. So, it’s really special.

So much of Aidan’s story is about being near his roots — growing up in Michigan, going to high school in Michigan, going to U of M, now playing for the Lions. How cool is it getting to do something like this, just as a family, being able to tap into those roots that again, which are so important in your overall story?

Aidan: Yeah, it’s unbelievable. I haven’t had too many opportunities to do a marketing campaign with my family, and when Rocket presented this idea, we were all jumping out of our seats, we were all so excited. And the whole message behind it about your support systems, the people that you have in your life who are your dreammates, the people that have helped you along the way, and the whole concept, it is very inspiring. It really gets me fired up, because I am very passionate about it.

Melissa: I was gonna say about Rocket Mortgage, it is really the first campaign that features all of them together, and siblings are a very important part — what I’ve noticed, at least — in the sports industry. They are the ones that actually have gone to probably every game as all the kids are growing up. I know the girls, when Aidan started football in seventh grade, we all went to the games, Aria was a cheerleader when they were in seventh in eighth grade, and then obviously through high school, it was like our family event to go to. In turn, Aidan would go to anything that the girls would do, as well, and they all did do competitive dance together when they were younger. So, they were around each other a lot.

But I loved how Rocket Mortgage came and asked us to do this. It was really super special because it’s something that I think sometimes gets overlooked, and it’s so important, and it’s so inspiring to hear how that support system works in something like Aidan’s journey. It’s not for the faint of heart, and it’s a 24/7 thing that we all commit to and help each other out with everything, but especially in the industry he’s in, it’s essential.

Mia: I think we’re so reliant on each other’s opinions, as well. We always are very truthful with each other, and we don’t let each other walk out of the house looking a certain way or whatever, have something in your tooth, got a booger in your nose, we are that family that will tell you, because we got your back. And I think that’s something that I’ve really, really just valued, having people that I know I can trust completely and lean on with everything. And in all of our endeavors, and Aidan’s endeavors, mine, my sister’s, my parents, we all support each other in that exact same way. So, it was so special that Rocket Mortgage approached us and wanted to do this with us. It’s really amazing, and I love telling our story, it’s fun and I love working together.

This is a great weekend for Detroit, and there are going to be a ton of people coming in from out of town. And let’s say someone comes to Detroit, the Draft ends on Saturday, and they have a day to kill on Sunday before they head home. What do all of you recommend that person does for the day to really experience the best of Detroit before they before they go back home?

Mia: Okay, we’ve actually already done, like, a little bit of a ranking in downtown Detroit. So, they’ll probably already have seen Campus Martius, that’s where the Draft is actually taking place. I think it’s gonna be a nice weekend, you have to do the Detroit Riverwalk. It’s beautiful and now everything is blooming, and it’s gonna get even better, so walk the riverwalk for sure.

Melissa: The best restaurants, there’s so many good restaurants downtown. I mean, Mia, you have a whole list.

Aidan: We talked about, you gotta go to Coney Island. That’s the staple, Lafayette Coney Island.

Melissa: It’s from back in the day, that’s still there, and it’s where everybody goes, you’re gonna get the best Coneys ever. My grandpa used to go there all the time, even, Coney Island is it.

Getting up to Detroit has been on the to do list for me forever, and that’s the one thing everyone says — it’s Lafayette Coney Island, isn’t there a second place and there’s a war over which one is the best or something like that?

Melissa: Yeah, I’m going for Lafayette, because that’s what my whole family, my grandpa ever talked about. Plus, there’s so much shopping now. Speaking of Rocket Mortgage and Dan Gilbert and what he has done for that city, for the so many years of building. And honestly, with all the sports, a lot of the success in sports right now, it’s just the icing on the cake and everybody is fired up. It’s brought a new energy, really, to the city of Detroit.

Aidan, I have a question about the actual day of the Draft. What is the best part of that day other than obviously hearing your name called, going up on stage, getting to shake Commissioner’s hand, and finding out where you’re going to be spending the next however many years of your life playing football?

Aidan: I think one of the most special moments is the aftermath of it. When it’s happening, it’s all such a shock, this euphoric moment, but when it all kind of settles and the reality is kind of set in terms of what your future is going to look like. I was so happy — I had a different experience, but I was so happy with where I ended up. I’m just sitting there in Vegas, I’m getting ready to do a bunch of media things right after I got drafted, and I’m kind of just sitting there, and it’s just that feeling is hitting, and there’s not much that can describe it. It’s just that feeling that everything is right and I’m on the right path, and I just know everything is going how it’s supposed to be going. It’s hard to describe those moments at the aftermath of these very huge victories, these big, happy moments. It’s very peaceful and relaxing, knowing that all is right.

Mia: You know what was funny? It was such a whirlwind, right after you got called, and we went to celebrate. And then really, it was a couple hours later that we had to fly back to Detroit, ditch our old flights and take the Lions’ charter flight back to Detroit, where normally guys would be going to their cities, we’re like, “Oh, well, we’re just going home.” We got to tour the facility and meet everybody, and everyone was so nice. When you walk in there, even now — Aidan, you can attest — the energy is electric, everyone’s vibrating, there’s a common goal there that everyone wants to achieve and they know they’re going to achieve it.

Aidan: For sure, we got a good organization, we’re lucky enough to say that.

Melissa: Great culture, great people, interactions have just been mint. But I think after the Draft, yes, you have that moment. You know the work is going to start up again, but you have that moment to breathe. You’ve just gone through Combine training before that, an insane season with Michigan, breaking down, starting to chip away at those walls that they needed to. There’s so much, and so you’re always in this heightened state, and then once you know where you’re going, no matter where it is, it’s like you can just breathe a little bit, you have a little bit to breathe and then then it starts up again. And I would say, my husband turned to me after — I think it was right after your rookie year, Aidan — where dad said, when it was done, he could finally breathe. It was like the Draft, but it was that first whole rookie year, because the expectation is so tremendous, especially being in the Draft, tremendous for every player. And I think once we beat Green Bay at that last game, and it was your first offseason ever, the first time you’ve ever had one, you didn’t even know what to do with your time. Remember? You said, “What do I even do now? I don’t even have school, I have free time.” That’s when we could all just finally take a big deep breath after it felt like we were holding our breath for a couple years.

My last question here: Is there any way that I could get a Dan Campbell story that people might not know? Because I’ve never seen a coach that fans of other teams like as much as they like this guy.

Aidan: Oh God, people always ask Dan Campbell stories.

Mia: And Jim Harbaugh stories.

Aidan: I can never deliver to the expectation of these stories that these legends live up to. Oh, God.

Melissa: He’s got a lot of analogies, he’s got really good…

Aidan: Every team meeting, it’s unreal. Every team meeting is the most captivating meeting. He’s so real, that’s why everyone loves him this because it’s just so authentic and that Dan that you see talking after games, talking before games, talking during the week, talking during the offseason, that’s the guy that we’d get in a team meeting. And it’s why we all love him, he keeps a real, and a lot of guys, that’s what I feel like players value the most in the NFL is having a coach that’s authentic to his word, authentic to what he says, because it’s just very important. And I unfortunately can’t think of any insane — I think I have this expectation, like this groundbreaking Dan Campbell story, and maybe I should start brainstorming in my free time.

Melissa: Didn’t you say he always says something about horses?

Aidan: Yeah, cause he’s like a farm boy, so he’s always making these analogies. He showed us that … the Kentucky Derby, the horse won that was never supposed to win ever, it was a couple of years ago. He’s shown that video to us at least four times. And I wonder if this video is ever going to run out of its uses, because he uses it at least twice a year … the horse that was, like, the last in the odds ended up winning the Derby a few years ago. I forget the name of the horse.

Yeah, you seem like you end up getting drawn to these coaches who are just, like, 110 percent themselves at every single opportunity they get.

Aidan: Yes.

I’m sure that Jim Harbaugh to Dan Campbell pipeline really is something.

Aidan: It is, it is.

Melissa: And both guys played for the teams that Aidan was on at one point. That’s what was so cool about that, players for that team. Right? So there is a pattern going on here.