What was Brian like as a child?
Brian has always been a busy-body. He wouldn’t even sit in my lap and I was the type of mother who wanted to hug and cuddle and the only time he wanted to hug and cuddle was when he was sleepy or when I was giving too much attention to someone else. Then he would come by and squeeze in and try to push those kids out of the way. But he was always a good baby. He started sleeping early. Brian was a big baby. He was 10 pounds, 4 oz. and 22 inches long.
Did he take to sports and football early? And did you know he was going to be this good?
Brian started walking when he was 9 ½ months old, and he always had a ball in his hands, so his dad started working on his hand and eye coordination. He would throw him the ball and he would catch it and Brian would get really frustrated when he didn’t catch the ball. Brian has got some big old paws, he has big hands. He started playing sports probably when he was about five and he started playing through the YMCA and I knew then he was something special. He was so coordinated even at that age. Before he could even walk, he would tackle his sister and she’s four years old and he was able to tackle her down. People said oh he’s such a good kid. I always said, he’s not an angel but he’s not a devil either.
I hear Brian got to be on the field for his first Lions game as a five year old, and you had to call the team and track the video down. What's the story behind that?
When I found out about it, I contacted the Lions organization. I may even have that letter, I sent them a letter. I think they figured that most parents aren’t going to go through that because it’s too much work, but to me it was worth it. I sent an email to Brian Bender, I believe was his name, sent him a letter and Brian was the director of broadcast news and media at the time for the Detroit Lions and he told me what I needed to do and I damn near begged the man and he said no one had ever requested a tape before. This is how old it was, he said send me a VHS tape. I did that and told him what the date was, there was no fee involved and about two weeks later, I got my tape.
When you look at these pictures and think about what he was, and where he is now, a top recruit and committed to Michigan, what goes through your mind?
God, nothing but God. I knew he was a special boy. He was a special baby. I knew when I would see him on the field and the other parents would be yelling 'get him, get him,' that he was the one you had to stop. That hasn’t changed, even now. I knew he was going to do great things, but to be honest, I never thought it would blow up like this. When people see me, I’m Brian Cole’s mom. I’m not an individual anymore. I’m identified as his Mom. When he made the commitment to U-M, I was almost hypnotized because I couldn’t believe it, but most importantly, I was like, man, I don’t have to pay for my son’s education. And furthermore, he is going to a school whose reputation is built on academic programs. People always say, you get a Michigan degree, you can work anywhere.
For me personally, Brian is a great young man on the football field, but what people don’t know is that Brian is a loving and caring individual. They had a camp recently and at the camp, when we send Brian places, we make sure he has enough money in his pocket, and during this camp there was a young man who didn’t have a lot of money and Brian came home and said I need some money to go to the movies and I said Brian you shouldn’t have used any money at the camp because your dad went, and he started to tell me that Mom, there was this kid up there, every time we went up to eat or did anything outside of football, I paid for him because Mom, he didn’t have anything. He didn’t have anybody. So the last day of the camp, Brian had some wide receiver gloves that were very expensive. The last day, he put those gloves in that young man’s shoes. The boy didn’t know it. On his way home, Brian got the text from this man thanking him and saying he didn’t have to do that. Brian said I had to because otherwise he wouldn’t have had any for the season. Brian has a little mentee now and the time he spends with him is phenomenal. People say he’s a great athlete, but he’s a great human being and that’s what I love. Not that he’s good at football, but he’s a caring person. I know that if Brian were to make it big, NFL, I already know he’s going to give back to society. He would do the LaMarr Woodley thing. He would pay for kids’ football teams and camps.
- 8/21: Damien Harris