The Unflinching Antonio Brown

If Antonio Brown can make it to the Super Bowl, anyone can. Read his inspirational story of success.

PITTSBURGH – God has a plan.

That's what Antonio Brown told himself when he was 16 years old and homeless.

That's what Antonio Brown told himself when no one recruited him out of high school, even though he'd made the Florida 6A All-State team twice.

That's what Antonio Brown told himself after he went undrafted by the NFL until the sixth round, even though he'd caught 305 passes in only three seasons at Central Michigan University.

And that's what Antonio Brown is trying to tell a mob of reporters who want to know about his catches that clinched playoff wins over the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets.

"God has a plan," said the Pittsburgh Steelers' rookie receiver. "Those plays weren't designed to go my way. Ben [Roethlisberger] just came to me."

And here Brown sits on the precipice of the biggest stage in American sports. But if you listen to Brown's story, you have to believe that anyone can make it to the Super Bowl.

It helps to have genes, of course, and Brown got his from former wide receiver Eddie Brown.

No, not the former Cincinnati Bengals star of the 1980s. Antonio Brown is the son of "Touchdown" Eddie Brown, who was voted the Arena Football League's all-time greatest player, ahead of even Kurt Warner, when the league held its 20th anniversary party in 2006.

"Touchdown" Eddie Brown came out of Miami Central and played at Louisiana Tech in the early 1990s. He was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals but couldn't catch on and ended up with the Albany Firebirds of the AFL. He spent the next 10 years there and piled up, well, Antonio Brown-type numbers. Eddie Brown was a two-time league MVP and caught 303 touchdown passes, including a record 9 in one game.

"I went to some of his games when I was young and watched him tear it up, watched him get three or four touchdowns in games," said Antonio. "He was special."

He was a special football player. And Eddie Brown chased that dream while Antonio grew up with his mom in the crime-infested Miami neighborhood of Liberty City.

But that didn't last long for Antonio. His mom got married and "she had to put me out to help me become a man," Brown told Steelers Digest.

It's a nice way to put it, but the 16-year-old Brown was forced by his new step-father to bounce from friend to friend, coach to coach, as he continued to pursue his dream of playing professional football.

Even though colleges ignored his incredible production, Brown carried on and eventually got out of Liberty City.

"It was a great experience for me," is Brown's interpretation.

He even found a way to take care of his brother Desmond, and still does. The two live together in Pittsburgh. Desmond, in fact, is walking on to the Pitt football team this spring as a running back.

Antonio carries on without a hint of bitterness toward his parents, with whom he's been in close contact. In fact, his dad – who recently finished his first season as the head coach of Wyandotte High (Mo.) – will be in Dallas to watch his son play in the Super Bowl.

"I wouldn't say he helped me a lot, but he's seen my growth," said Antonio. "We never had time to do one-on-one work and learn techniques, but when he watches me play he gives me notes on stuff I can do and how I can get better."

What did dad think about the 58-yard bomb that Antonio pinned against his helmet to beat the Ravens? Or the 14-yard catch on third down that beat the Jets in the AFC title game?

"He was excited," said Antonio. "He was thankful I could get the opportunity and told me to stay humble, play my role and be smart."

Antonio Brown already knew all of that. The way he sees it, it's been part of God's plan all along.

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