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Big Ben Jr. arrives as the newest addition to Steeler Nation

| Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, 11:13 a.m.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hugs Jerricho Cotchery in the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium Nov. 13, 2011. Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review

Baby Ben arrived just in time to enjoy his first Thanksgiving dinner.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wife, Ashley, welcomed Benjamin Roethlisberger Jr. into the world at 10:06 p.m. Wednesday — the first child for the couple, who were married nearly 18 months ago.

Roethlisberger posted a message on his web page Thursday reading: “Ashley and I welcomed a healthy, beautiful baby boy into this world. Benjamin Jr. is 7 lbs., 1 oz. and is 19 12 inches long. Both mom and baby are doing well.

“We want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers. It really means a lot to us. God is so good! We will have pictures to post this weekend. We hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving — Ben, Ashley and Benjamin.”

Fittingly, the birth weight — a tad over 7 pounds — matches Roethlisberger's No. 7 jersey.

Less than 12 hours after the delivery, the proud papa was back at the Steelers' South Side offices, showing off pictures of his first-born to his teammates and watching most of the team's holiday practice.

“I've never seen him smile that much,” wide receiver Mike Wallace said. “I'm very, very happy for him, first and foremost that he had a healthy kid and everything's good.”

Lineman Willie Colon, one of Roethlisberger's closest friends on the team, said the quarterback successfully hid his nervousness for weeks.

“Ah, man, I'm so happy for him. He's been in anticipation of this for so long. It was kind of under his skin, but he never really talked about it,” Colon said. “He wanted to keep it private. But he really wanted it. And I'm really, really happy for him.”

Roethlisberger promised to miss a Steelers game if his wife gave birth on a game day, but that didn't occur. Roethlisberger is healing from rib and shoulder-related injuries that will sideline him for a second consecutive game Sunday in Cleveland.

“I'm most happy it wasn't during a game or during that time he was forced to have to make a choice,” Colon said.

Multiple teammates agree that Baby Ben closely resembles Dad.

“I told him it looks exactly like him. Poor kid!” Colon said, laughing out loud. “No, I'm just kidding. I'm really happy.”

Lineman Max Starks, the father of a daughter born only a couple of weeks ago, has some advice for the Steelers' newest dad.

“Try to sleep when you can,” Starks said.

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