Young Brandon Graham was like any other kid. Full of life. Full of energy. And, sometimes, he could be a handful.
His mother, Tasha Graham, recalls on a video entitled “Brandon Graham’s Story;”
“We would always go to my Auntie’s house and they had a bird. And it would always call Brandon’s name because he would always get in trouble. ‘Brandon! Stop Brandon! Stop Brandon!’ It was just funny because we all knew, even if he wasn’t in trouble the bird would say it…
Brandon’s kindergarten teacher, she told me – he had good grades for the whole year – but she said, ‘you gonna have a disciple problem.’
And, you know, I didn’t know how to take that because I’m like, ‘I’m doing the best I can, and this boy’s still ain’t acting right?’
But she started it when she told me ‘you gonna have A discipline problem! I said, ‘well, not on my watch! Not my kid!’
He was playing too rough with the girls. Didn’t know that a girl don’t play like a boy… But I wasn’t gonna accept it… So, I was like, ‘I’m gonna ask his dad, what should we do? What do we recommend?’
He was like; ‘Little League Football.’ I never knew it could turn into what it turned into.”
Graham’s father, Darrick Walton, had a great game plan on how to keep his son out of trouble. He wanted to keep his son so busy with school and with football that he didn’t have time to get in trouble. One play, however, nearly ruined it all.
Tasha Graham explains; “we found him a team. He only played one game. Quit.”
Brandon himself adds; “I remember, clear as day, this dude named Marcus Green. He wore #3, I still talk to him to this day. We did this drill where we line up, he got the ball, I’m the defense player and I got to make the tackle and sure enough, he run me over. I actually quit.”
His parents, though, decided that they weren’t going to let him quit, and told him that he had to finish the year. Walton says ‘I couldn’t have him quit, so we made him play his first year out and once he got the hang of it, ‘cause he caught on real quick cause he’s an active kid. I knew he was something special then. That first year, I knew he was something special.’
The real reason they wouldn’t let him quit was their desire to keep their son safe. Walton goes on to explain; “Detroit is a rough city. It’s rough. We all grew up in the roughest area, so you really had to be really, really close to your family. Keep your kids, you know, out of all that stuff, ‘cause it was bad. He went to summer camp, stayed all day at summer camp, he had football in the evenings. When he got home, He was too tired to eat. So, we just basically kept him busy.”
His mother adds, “so many traps out there. A lot of guys out there are not good for these young men. And I wasn’t going for that. You know, I had to keep him busy instead of the streets keeping him busy. If you stay out of trouble, which you can, it can’t get you.”
Their plan worked. Brandon became a star at Detroit’s Crocket High School. He went on to become an All-American at the University of Michigan and was then selected in the first round of the 2010 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. His mom says, looking back on it all; “Football turned into something that I really did not expect.”
Graham realizes now that it was his parent’s love for him that kept him out of trouble and paved the way for the success that he enjoys today. Graham and his wife, Carlyne, are parents now themselves. He sees that his purpose now it to do for others what his parents first did for him. One of his goals in life is to help youth stay out of trouble and focus on more constructive things. He has a charity, Team Graham 55, which focuses on providing at risk youth with the opportunity to play football. He also visits elementary and middle schools during the offseason, spending time with the children and reading to them.
Graham explained to the Increase; “I love kids. I just want to share my life with them so that they feel comfortable with me and then maybe the door will open for me to share my faith with them. But I don’t want to push it on them; it’s all in God’s timing. I just want to change someone else’s life the way God changed mine. I know a lot of people are watching me. I want to use that for His glory. My favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11 which says, ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Nobody is going to care for you like God cares for you. No matter what happens, I know God is in my corner.”
Hebrews 13:7 says; ‘Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the Word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. That’s what Graham is doing with his Team Graham 55 charity. He’s passing on to others the blessings his parents lovingly gave to him. God urges all of us to consider the people who have blessed us, whether those were our parents, teachers, pastors, role models, and friends. He urges us to consider how we saw those people emulate Christ in their lives and follow their example.