God's light shines through Brandon Miree

I have conducted many interviews during my day writing about sports, but today I met a young man whose spirit was so positive it blew me away. I left breakfast with Brandon Miree praying that I would do justice to what he was all about when I wrote this column.

Then, I had difficulty deciding how to present the information. My first thought was to write Ms. Delores Miree an open letter telling her what a terrific job she had done instilling Christian values and concepts such as knowledge wisdom and understanding into her baby boy. Then I thought who am I to verify what a great parenting job she had done (my son is only three and I pray to do as good a job.) My next thought, was to give you a biographical sketch of Brandon and separate how fine a football player he is from how great a person I found him to be, and then the spirit led me to just tell you how our breakfast went.

When I arrived at Brandon's house, he had remembered my face, but didn't know from where. I reminded him that I covered him when he prepped at Winton Woods for the Player's Journal, a now defunct high school prep magazine. He then shared with me a photo album that a friend of his mother's had put together for him. It was full of color shots and articles of his accomplishments at Pitt. Brandon had originally gone to Alabama out of high school but transferred to Pitt and now is there returning starting tailback. He looked owe so sweet carrying the ball in the photos. It was strange on this day we didn't talk much about football, but more about life. On the ride from Brandon's house to Firstwatch in Tri-County I filled Brandon in on my background.

We found out pretty quickly that we had similar values and one of them was the importance of education. "Wow, you got three degrees?" Miree said. I nodded and smiled, saying it allows me to reach for my dreams knowing that I have something to fall back on. Having graduated from Pitt the week before I knew Miree understood what I was talking about. Miree will be working on his Master's degree in Public Administration when he starts his final campaign at Pitt in the fall. Our conversation went all over the place, but it was clear that the spirit was among us. I asked Brandon what was important to him, and he began to talk about the Lord and how having "other people come to God" through him was very important. It was the beginning for me of a realization that this kid was "the one" that God had sent to use football as an avenue to save or at least change lives. Rather it is an inner city kid that hears his motivational speaking or another person that comes in contact with him through his work with the Fellowship for Christian Athletes or Athletes in Action. Carrying that peel is only a vehicle to the mission that Miree carries all the time. "I want people to turn to God because they see what God has done for me, the mercy he has shown me," "hopefully, I can bring people closer to God!" Of all the subjects we touched upon, the spirit led me to focus on this young man's desire to be a beacon for God. I tell you we talked about everything; interracial dating, LaRosa's, Brandon's hobby of writing screenplays, the old school mix in his CD- "Bobby Blue Band, members only," and Cincy chili- Brandon wouldn't choose. I guess he didn't want to hurt future marketing opportunities.

We also talked about him switching from Alabama to Pitt. "When I came out I visited Notre Dame, Boston College, Michigan State, Alabama, and Pitt." "At that time Pitt wasn't were it is today, they were showing me what was going to be, when you show a youngster blueprints???" Both Pitt and Alabama fit his three criteria- academics, football program, and atmosphere. With a coaching change at Alabama, Miree felt better about the opportunity that Pitt presented. The rest is history. Miree is playing to position himself as an early draft choice in the NFL next year. His 995 yards on 200 carries as a Jr. will serve as a challenge as he enters his final run through the very tough Big East. We talked and talked and eat pretty good too, but the one thing we kept coming back too, was Brandon's commitment and faith in God and how important that was to him. Brandon talked about being raised in the church, but having to make a change in himself, and recommitting himself as a high school junior. He really impressed me by knowing his mission. I told him to keep his focus. To not let that money cloud his dreams, to remember how simple it is to be a soldier for God. He said he would, and I believe him.

Brandon Miree is a great example to many youth. He has a desire to speak to your youth. Miree is available for public/and motivational speaking and can be reached at BCM4@Pitt.edu. If you have difficulty reaching him, hit me and I'll surely reach him for you. Brandon Miree is a must meet athlete for kids of all generations!

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