MESQUITE (CBS 11 NEWS) – When San Francisco 49er cornerback Tarell Brown first strapped on a helmet at a young age in Mesquite, Texas, his mother was the one who coached him.
“His mom would have me out every Saturday morning and I would be recording the games,” recalled Brown’s cousin, Joy Jennings. “His mom would tell him here’s what you did here. She was well versed in the game of football.”
Jennings said just as Brown started to figure out the game, his life changed.
His mother, Tonya Edmonds, was murdered.
Edmonds had just gone out to her car when she was shot in the alley behind her home. She was on her way to her job as secretary at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in Dallas.
To this day, there’s been no arrest.
Brown was nine-year-old and in third grade when she was killed.
“He had to find a way to release all the pain that he felt,” said Jennings.
So while Jennings played the role of an older sister, football gave Brown a reason to go on.
“He could have went to the streets and have done all those negative things that you would expect from someone with all that adversity, but that’s not the route he chose.”
Brown went on to star at North Mesquite High School and blossomed at the University of Texas.
Then just days before he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers, it happened again.
His father died of a heart attack.
“So neither one of his parents got to see him where he is today,” said Jennings.
More two dozen of Brown’s family members from North Texas will be in New Orleans on Sunday for the big game, but Jennings said on Brown’s mind will likely be the two who are not.
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