Nick Brossette overcomes unimaginable loss

LSU running back Nick Brossette has moved past his brother's death with the support of his school.

The family section of Tiger Stadium will soon fill for the first time in 2015.

Parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles will all take seats as the special guests of LSU football players. They’ll watch from the stands as their talented relatives put on for the purple and gold.

Baton Rouge native Nicholas Brossette will have a strong contingent there to support him through his first game. His older brother, Mendel Esnault, won’t be in the stadium though.

He’ll have a much higher point of view for that game against McNeese State.

Esnault passed away tragically and unexpectedly April 20 leaving a hole in Brossette’s life he’ll never truly fill.

“I’m always thinking about him,” Brossette said. “He was my everything.”

Esnault meant even more than that.

Rita Brossette, Nick and Esnault’s mother, has struggled with serious health issues since 2008. She was diagnosed in 2012 with a type of cancer that infects the bone marrow, prevents the production of healthy cells and causes excruciating pain.

Rita’s health prevented her from maintaining steady employment. The family’s financial situation eventually deteriorated so much they were evicted from their home.

That’s when Esnault had to take on a much bigger role. A tremendous high school player, Esnault returned home from his first semester at Dodge City (Kan.) CC, putting his dreams of college football on hold. He had two young daughters of his own, but he also had to support his entire family.

He worked relentlessly to provide stability for Brossette, creating a foundation for him to become one of the nation’s top recruits in the 2015 class. Brossette eventually signed with LSU after a record-breaking high school career at University Lab, and he credits Esnault for steering him toward that success.

Nick Brossette at his Under-Armour Game jersey presnetation. Mendel Esnault is pictured at the far right

But less than two months before the start of his next chapter, Brossette was hit with the ultimate blow. He knew then he’d have to pick up all his brother left behind.

“I know what he wants me to do,” Brossette said. “And that’s take care of my family.”

He couldn’t possibly do that alone though. Brossette has classes, practices, games and is still just a teenager.

Enter Les Miles and the entire LSU community.

The University established a fund for Brossette and his family soon after his brother’s passing. That raised thousands to help cover Esnault’s funeral costs and set up the family for a future without its sole provider.

“It was a tragic loss, and it touched anybody that knew the family,” Miles said. “He was the father of his brother and the father of his own family. What a special man he was.”

Miles said he only played a “tag-along” role in the support of Brossette. He credited the LSU community at large for coming to the rescue.

But Brossette believes Miles had a much bigger part.

“He was just like my dad,” Brossette said. “He’s always been there for me. I really appreciate him and his family for that.”

Brossette’s pain will never go away. He knows that, but LSU at least helped ease it enough for him to focus on his future.

He’s now two weeks away from his first game as a Tiger. He’s one of four tremendous running backs in a stable that includes one of the best in the country, but Brossette will certainly get his chances to shine this season.

There’s nothing an SEC defense can throw it at him tougher than what he’s already hurdled.

“All the stuff I went through when I was a child, it prepared me,” Brossette said. “My brother always prepared me for everything. He taught me a lot before he passed away.”

Sadly, Esnault’s no longer here to pass on more wisdom to his younger brother. The two always envisioned what it would be like for Brossette to emerge from the tunnel for his first collegiate football game.

Esnault pictured himself in the stands of Tiger Stadium, rooting on his brother. That will never come true in a physical sense, but Brossette knows he’ll have his No. 1 supporter watching from the best seats in the house.

“He’d tell me he’s proud of me,” Brossette said. “Just keep doing what I’m doing and focus on the little things. Those are what’s going to get me there.”

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