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amazingandre


Joined: 16 Dec 2007
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Location: Elkhorn, WI
PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:01 am    Post subject: Bryan Braman is awesome Reply with quote

Bryan Braman overcomes hard knocks, stubbornness to put 'special' in teams

By Jerome Solomon

December 16, 2012

With Walter Matia's powerful "Spirit of the Bull" sculptures outside and its own raging Bulls on Parade inside, Reliant Stadium just might be the perfect habitat for Texans linebacker Bryan Braman, a self-described "hardheaded, stubborn-headed, bullheaded kind of guy."

It is the type of place the born-in-May, Taurus-the-Bull dreamer imagined he would one day call home.

Even when Braman had no place to call home.

Even when he worked 16- or 17-hour shifts five days a week making concrete railroad ties for $10 an hour in his hometown of Spokane, Wash.

Even when the only bed he knew was the backseat of his mother's LeSabre.

That is where Braman and Doja, his American pit bull terrier, slept, bonded, lived.

Braman was a college dropout, having left the University of Idaho, where he was on a football scholarship, without playing in a game and almost never having gone to class.

Around this time, Braman's fraternal grandfather was dying of cancer, just as his other grandfather had five years earlier.

He was depressed, his mother said. He was haunted, said a high school guidance counselor and adviser.

Smiley N. Pool, Staff 2012 Houston Chronicle

"I was lost," said Braman.

At 6-5 and around 250 pounds, with a V-shaped torso, a chiseled midsection that is better defined than any airbrushed "after" photos in muscle magazine ads and long, flowing locks, Braman looks as if he descended to earth from Mount Olympus. If Paul Bunyan were from Mount Olympus, that is.

A Buick might not have been the most comfortable of abodes for a man his size, but it beat sleeping on the streets.

And Braman was on the streets. An 18-year-old struggling to find his way.

He'd spend a night or two with a friend, and a night or two with another friend and a night or three in his mother's car.

"I was homeless and it didn't matter," Braman said. "I was depressed, I guess, and felt like I had let everyone down because I'd blown the scholarship and I wasn't playing the sport I so loved."

Maybe higher education wasn't a Braman thing, he thought. No one in his family had earned a college degree.

"I figured I'd come from a poor, blue-collar family, and that's just the way my family had always been work hard for what little we had, work a 9-to-5, so that's what I figured I'd do, work a 9-to-5," Braman said.

But in 2006, Braman wasn't exactly working a 9-to-5. It was more like a 2-to-6, as in 2 p.m. to 6 a.m. (with mandatory overtime) at a Spokane factory, the same place where his father, who was in and out of his life, had once worked.

The $10 an hour was better than what he made picking apples as an eighth-grader. And it was better than what he brought home from his stint at a pizza parlor in the 10th grade. And better than the paper routes he had when he was a junior and senior at Shadle Park High School.

But the "back-breaking labor" was beating him up physically and tearing him up mentally.

It wasn't the life he had dreamed.

"It was just dirty work, and I didn't want to do it no more," Braman said. "I didn't want to end up like so many in my family. I knew I could do more.

"Being bullheaded, stubborn-headed had got me here. But being bullheaded, stubborn-headed had got me nowhere."

Life of poverty

Tina Braman-Fields was the youngest of eight children. Second- and third-hand clothes were a way of life.

"When you sat down to eat dinner, you ate everything because you didn't know if the next meal was going to be breakfast or dinner," Braman-Fields said. "We just didn't have much."

Barely a year out of high school, she had 10-pound, 2-ounce Bryan. Times were tough. Money was tight. Braman was born in Hillyard, the poorest section of Spokane. He and his mother, and later a younger sister, moved often. Out of necessity.

"We often didn't have much of a choice of where we could live," Braman-Fields said. "We never lived in the high prestige areas; we always lived in the lower-class housing.

"Sometimes I had a tough time paying rent. When they raised the rent, we had to move, so we rarely stayed at a place very long."

Braman's father wasn't around.

"It's hard for me to hold grudges. I don't know why he made the decisions that he made, but there was a lot more time that he wasn't there than he was," Braman said. "My mother, she's been my strength.

"No matter if it put her out of a thing that she needed, she would do it for us. If there was ever a time that I needed help, it came from my mom; it wasn't from my dad. That's just how it played out."

No matter how many times they moved, wherever they went, Braman was the biggest, baddest kid on the block. "A daredevil," his mother called him. So to help him focus, she did her best to keep him involved in athletics.

They held yard sales to raise money for youth soccer or baseball. Braman even sold toys he no longer favored to buy cleats, and Braman-Fields scoured the newspaper ads for used sports equipment. Occasionally, Braman would be awarded a scholarship that took care of registration fees.

Whatever the sport, Braman excelled. Though his favorite toy from the time he was 10 months old was a football, he didn't play organized football until the eighth grade.

He talked about being a professional baseball player. Or a professional soccer player. A professional anything, really, just something that would give him and his mother and his sister a better life.

That was his promise to his mother.

Braman was that kid others on the playground challenged to attempt amazing feats of strength, agility and stupidity. From doing circus flips off swing sets (without a net of course) to eating bugs, Braman would do anything on a dare.

"Where somebody would say, 'Try this,' a kid would say 'No,' then turn to me and say, 'I betcha Bryan will do it,' and I would," Braman said. "I was always that guy. I can't really say there is anything that I haven't done that somebody dared me to do."

Doubt, Braman said, is motivation.

Size, skill in genes

Braman's infamous helmetless tackle of Titans punt returner Marc Mariani last season was hardly the first time he plowed headfirst into a situation without thinking about the consequences.

There was the time when he was 9 or 10 years old and decided to "tackle a fire hydrant," blasting directly into it while playing football. Woozy and needing stitches, he spent the next few days at the hospital.

"We thought he was going to lose sight in his right eye," Braman-Fields said. "He's just always been full-speed ahead and would never put the brakes on. He's always, always been really big for his age, and his mind would carry him faster than his body would go."

Size and speed are in the Braman genes.

Braman's grandfather, Ivan Cecil Braman, who died in April 2001, was a mountain of a man who stood 7-4 and weighed 460 pounds. Braman-Fields was a sprint champion in high school, holding the school record in the 100 meters at Spokane Rogers High School, where she was part of a four-girl state championship track team in 1986.

Braman was all-everything in high school.

In a game against Gonzaga Prep, he dominated the line of scrimmage with three sacks and two batted down passes, plus added a special treat with a rousing 78-yard kickoff return. He won medals at the state track meet in the javelin, long jump and high jump (in which he had a personal best of 6-113/4) and competed in the 400-meter relay.

Size and speed got him to Idaho but was doing little for him when he was wandering the streets of Spokane.

Knowing he was meant to do more, Braman walked into the office of Anthony "JuJu" Predisik, a guidance counselor at Shadle Park from whom he had often sought advice.

"He had his battles before he even got to Shadle Park as a freshman," Predisik said. "Just a genuine, naive heart, but a street mind."

A class here or there - Braman figured he would actually try this time - and maybe one day he would find a decent 9-to-5. After Braman explained this to Predisik, the counselor asked him if he would like to play football again. Braman was stunned.

"That wasn't even something I was thinking about," Braman said. "I figured since I'd messed up my chance at Idaho, that the dream was dead."

2nd chance squandered

A couple of days later, Braman was on a bus to Long Beach City College. His dream still alive.

He was a long way from the NFL, but at least he was back on track.

Jason Jaso, Braman's coach at Long Beach, describes Braman as a "decathlete in waiting."

"All he needed was to focus all of that energy," Jaso said.

After dominating for two years at Long Beach, Braman went to West Texas A&M in Canyon, where he was named to the Abilene Reporter-News' All-Lone Star Conference squad in 2009.

But a year later, being bullheaded again set him back. He was arrested and charged with manufacturing psilocybin (a hallucinogen) because he allowed someone who was doing so to stay in his rental house.

"I was really, really upset with myself for being stubborn-headed," Braman said. "People had told me long before then, a year before any of that stuff happened, to be careful who I let in my life. I told myself I wasn't going to be that guy, that it wouldn't happen to me, and there I was I allowed it to happen.

"I couldn't believe it was happening. I couldn't believe I let it happen. It was completely unreal to me."

A two-time college washout, Braman made his way to College Station, where he became a bouncer and was about as far from the NFL as he was when he was working in that factory in Spokane.

Typically, NFL teams don't scout bars looking for 24-year-olds who had played only one year of Division II football.

But Braman still thought there was a chance, because, as his mother said, "Not giving up is part of his personality."

Not surprisingly, Braman wasn't drafted.

Texans assistant coach Bobby King, who was the defensive line coach at West Texas A&M, persuaded the Texans to give Braman a look.

A moving experience

From the day he showed up at training camp across the street from Reliant Stadium, he stood out.

He had found a home. And he has since become a special-teams star. The league announced Wednesday that Braman was second in fan voting for the Pro Bowl.

"The things that were haunting him - his personal life, tough, tough times growing up - the struggles of those pieces put him in a position to really fight hard for something he wanted," Predisik said.

Braman-Fields, who moved to Houston at her son's request last November, recalled the first time she saw Reliant Stadium.

"It was overwhelming, very emotional," she said. "It's really good to see Bryan signing autographs for kids. Knowing his dedication and his never-give-up attitude is something those kids, kids who could be worse off than we were, could look up to and learn from. He went through poverty and hard times and "

Braman-Fields couldn't fight back the tears.

"To this day, I go to the stadium, all the home games, and I still get choked up."

One day last fall, Predisik received a call from Braman, who described to him the drive to the stadium and how he looks at the massive structure off the South Loop and can't hold back the tears.

"I can't believe that's my office, that I work there," Braman said. "I dreamed about this, and I'm here."


This was the only way to post this article, don't hate me mods.....its well worth the read
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lumberjackchris


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great story, love his perseverance.

I honestly hope we don't waste any money on re-signing Barwin and actually give Brahman a shot at the OLB rotation.
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kenney


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Really hoping that whoever the AFC's Pro Bowl STer is drops out. Braman deserves to go.

(Also hoping Leach drops out, because Casey ought to be there, as well)
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jch1911


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AA - thanks for posting!

You know Braman is my adopt-a-Texan in more ways than one.

Really touching story.

Surprising to hear that he was 2nd in fan voting, but fans remember (1) helmetless tackle last year and (2) block for a TD this year.

Plus Houston fans know who he is and we are the 4th largest city in America!
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Sciz


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kenney wrote:
Really hoping that whoever the AFC's Pro Bowl STer is drops out. Braman deserves to go.
Well it's Matt Slater, so the best way for that to happen would be for the Pats to make the Super Bowl, which would involve the Pats winning this weekend Wink

I knew that Braman is huge and plays like he's somewhat crazy, but it's nice to see that's he's got a really good story too. It's great that he's in the NFL despite everything.
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Wolf6151


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good story AA, thanks for posting. I hope Kubiak will someday give Braman a real chance at OLB or ILB.
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EliteTexan80


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

10 lbs, 2 oz. Geez, that's a BIG baby.

7' 4" and 460. Geez, that's a BIG granddaddy. Shocked
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treece300e


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really like to see stories like this. Similar to Torrey Smith story http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/25/AR2010122501499.html, it's just a true testament to the human will and overcoming obstacles in life. The voracity that he displays on Special Teams makes me think that he'd be a viable starter somewhere on this defense.

If Barwin leaves via FA, I will be really excited to see Braman get some more playing time, though we don't seem to rotate our OLBs too frequently. I wouldn't mind seeing him inside either, as I could see him really loving the part of playing "hit man" for Cushing. I can't think of another player who would be more excited to lay out FBs, TEs or OL that try to block in the second level.
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kenney


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Conversely, I was reminded watching Saturday's game that Jesse Nading is still on this football team after a sideline shot caught him celebrating. He has never appeared on the Inactives list. He has not made a single Special Teams tackle this season.

What, exactly, does he do? Because given the way we sometimes make personnel decisions on this team, it would not stun me to see us let Barwin walk, citing how much the staff believes in Jesse Nading.
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Wolf6151


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kenney wrote:
Conversely, I was reminded watching Saturday's game that Jesse Nading is still on this football team after a sideline shot caught him celebrating. He has never appeared on the Inactives list. He has not made a single Special Teams tackle this season.

What, exactly, does he do? Because given the way we sometimes make personnel decisions on this team, it would not stun me to see us let Barwin walk, citing how much the staff believes in Jesse Nading.



OMG, that's a scary thought and sounds exactly like the Texans staff when they were referring to Caldwell and Butler replacing Briesel and Winston last year, and we all know how well that worked out.
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texans_uk


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bottom line, if you have no money, don't then bring two kids into the world.
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EliteTexan80


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

texans_uk wrote:
Bottom line, if you have no money, don't then bring two kids into the world.


...I should go tell my Mother-in-Law that. Rolling Eyes
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texans_uk


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

EliteTexan80 wrote:
texans_uk wrote:
Bottom line, if you have no money, don't then bring two kids into the world.


...I should go tell my Mother-in-Law that. Rolling Eyes


I told my aunty that and she agrees. I haven't had a kid yet and i don't plan to till i can afford to raise one. What about you?
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kenney


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

texans_uk wrote:
EliteTexan80 wrote:
texans_uk wrote:
Bottom line, if you have no money, don't then bring two kids into the world.


...I should go tell my Mother-in-Law that. Rolling Eyes


I told my aunty that and she agrees. I haven't had a kid yet and i don't plan to till i can afford to raise one. What about you?


I'm unemployed and trying to create as many illegitimate offspring as I can. Rolling Eyes
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texans_uk


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kenney wrote:
texans_uk wrote:
EliteTexan80 wrote:
texans_uk wrote:
Bottom line, if you have no money, don't then bring two kids into the world.


...I should go tell my Mother-in-Law that. Rolling Eyes


I told my aunty that and she agrees. I haven't had a kid yet and i don't plan to till i can afford to raise one. What about you?


I'm unemployed and trying to create as many illegitimate offspring as I can. Rolling Eyes


Right so if you go to a classroom full of children you would advise then to have children even if they can't afford them?

I'm not going to deny ET you are lucky man for having found your wife and have a beautiful child, but would you honestly be giving the advice to teenagers to have children if they can't afford then?

Kenney I'm assuming you have been made redundant, and you are still trying for children? Personally i don't want my children to grow up in a household without a sustainable income, maybe that's just me. (i get that redundancies aren't planned)

I'm not against pro creation, i just believe you have to first way up the reality of having a child first.
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