Hayward, Calif., is more than 3,000 miles from the University of Miami campus in Coral Cables, Fla. But that distance didn't prevent young Braxston Banks from keeping a sharp eye on the Miami Hurricanes football program. When it came time to select his jersey number as a high school football star, Banks chose number 30, in honor of Miami running back Alonzo Highsmith.
Meanwhile, Hurricanes' head coach Jimmy Johnson had his eye on Banks. Johnson was building a dynasty in Coral Cables and he figured the hard-charging running back from California would be a perfect fit.
But Banks' mother had other ideas. When Johnson called with his recruiting pitch, she wouldn't put Johnson through to her son. What's more, she didn't even tell Braxston until after he had signed a letter of intent to play at Notre Dame.
Notre Dame fans, of course, would insist that mother knew best.
"She's an unbelievable lady," Banks says. "And I hate to give her credit on this, but yes, she did know best."
That piece is only 5 years old. Did Braxton's mom outlive him? I know my own mom's greatest fear was that she'd outlive her own children. (She didn't; she passed away 8 days before that 1988 Miami game.) Braxton did have 3 kids who are now in their teens and without their dad. He left us far too soon.