Four is more than just the number that Anthony Brayboy wears for Millikan football.
“I’ve worn #4 all my life,” Brayboy said. “At four years old is when my life totally changed. That’s the age I was given a second chance to strive for a better life. Every time I see #4 it just reminds me of that.”
Brayboy was raised by a few different family members in San Bernardino, and got adopted by his aunt and uncle when he was four. The senior defensive back is also one of four brothers and sisters who have never lived together.
“I never knew why this happened to me and for my whole life I’ve always thought about it,” Brayboy said. “When I was little I found myself in a lot of trouble. I was ‘too much’ to handle at times. I was considered the bad child.”
“You can tell that he’s been through a lot,” Millikan first-year coach Romeo Pellum. “When I first got here he was arguing and getting into it with his teammates. It’s gotten better since he shared his story.”
Pellum called a team meeting last month and told his players they were on a losing streak because they weren’t playing as a family.
“Families know things about each other,” Pellum said. “Brayboy has a story and he has a reason why he’s playing.”
A reinvigorated Rams squad picked up a win at Cabrillo last week, and Brayboy had a fantastic punt return for a touchdown in the victory that keeps Millikan’s playoff hopes alive.
Pellum said it’s been “up and down” with Brayboy, who was suspended for throwing a punch in the Lakewood game.
“I still hold him to the same standard as everyone else, but I’m more understanding about the situations he’s been in,” Pellum said. “Because of what he’s been through he may react differently. No one knows what that’s like. That’s pretty tough.”
“Both of my biological parents were in and out of prison and doing drugs when I was really young,” Brayboy said. “I haven’t seen my biological father in a couple of years, and it’s kind of weird because he would come try and see me on a holiday or something at least once a year. My biological mom was the opposite. I haven’t seen her pretty much my whole life. I remember like five years ago we met up at a park and talked for the first time since I was just a little kid. I haven’t seen her since. She’s reached out but we never figured anything thing out.”
Brayboy said his entire life changed when he was four and living with his aunt and uncle on his biological mothers side.
“It was just a normal day and my aunt told me we were going somewhere with my little brother,” Brayboy recalled. “While she was telling me she showed me these two gifts. It was a blue Spider-Man blanket and a Mickey Mouse Goofy teddy bear. Till this day I still have the blanket. She told me to put it in my backpack along with a lot of other clothes.”
“I went out to the car where my aunt was waiting. I was just confused at that point and my aunt and I made eye contact in the rear view mirror. She started to cry. Then I started to cry. I knew something wasn’t right.”
Brayboy was taken to his other aunts house on his biological fathers side where he played with his cousins as if it were any other family gathering.
“I thought I was just sleeping over but it ended up not being true,” Brayboy said. “A year later I finally had a permanent home because that aunt and uncle adopted me. Now my cousins are my brothers and sisters. That was the list time I saw my other aunt, uncle and brother until I saw my brother one more time at a basketball tournament at Mater Dei my freshman year.”
Brayboy added that he doesn’t hold a grudge against any of his extended family.
“The decisions that hurt me for so long were really the best thing for me,” Brayboy said. “If they didn’t send me to a better environment I wouldn’t be where I’m at today.”
“Brayboy works hard, he’s eager to learn, he’s very competitive and really passionate,” Pellum said. “He’s become more of a leader.”
This week, Mike and JJ break down all playoff possibilities and permutations tied to the last week of the regular season in high school football. Can Compton cap a historic season? Can Wilson take second place? Is Lakewood a lock for an at-large bid?