Cam Brown grew up in the NBA and ended up a Division III football sack leader

first_imgAn elementary school-aged Cam Brown stood in his father’s office inside Quicken Loans Arena wearing a funky shirt, shorts and two mismatched tennis shoes. Much of his body was marked up in Sharpie. He believed that if he looked as embarrassing as possible, his mom wouldn’t take him to see the his father, Mike Brown, then-head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. But Brown had thought wrong. His mom forced him to go wearing exactly that and Mike remembers just about falling over when he saw his son in the arena. Growing up, despite always playing sports, Brown’s favorite pastime was reading, Mike said, and he’d often rather do so than watch the NBA. That’s something Brown had to do often with a father who has coached in the NBA for 18 years, including head coaching stints with Cleveland (2005-10, 2013-14) and the Los Angeles Lakers (2011-13).Years later, Brown is still a basketball fan, but he found a different passion: football. Brown developed into one of the most elite pass rushers in Division III football, finishing his senior season at Case Western Reserve second in the country in sacks with 15 total. “I’m just a lot more comfortable in the defense that we’ve been running,” Brown said. “I’ve been a lot more confident in my own abilities. I’ve tried to open up the full array of pass rush moves I have and just really try to focus in and lock in on studying every opponent and try to open some things up for me.”Despite being recruited by several schools including Case Western Reserve, Brown didn’t start his college career as an athlete, electing to attend Cincinnati as a regular student. But by the second semester he yearned for the competition of organized sports. His father, now an assistant coach of the Golden State Warriors, had warned him that those who choose to cut their athletic careers short normally regret it.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHe re-approached Case Western Reserve.“When he contacted us a year later, he had gotten bigger, grown and developed physically even though he hadn’t played,” head coach Greg Debeljak said. “So we were really excited to have him aboard. We knew we were getting a really, really good player.”At a young age, Brown favored basketball just like his brother Elijah, now a member of the Detroit Pistons G-League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive. After realizing he wouldn’t be taller than 6-foot or 6-foot-1, it became clear Brown had more of a future in football. In ninth grade, he was the starting junior varsity offensive guard at Mater Dei High School (California), something his father knew wasn’t the correct fit. With Brown’s athleticism, long arms and quickness, Mike told him to ask to play on the defensive line. Brown didn’t listen until he attended Westlake High School (Ohio), where he played both offensive guard and defensive end, with the latter turning out to be his specialty.“So that’s the one thing I mess with him now,” Mike said. “I said, ‘Hey buddy, the sky’s the limit now because you have a lot of success but if you would’ve listened to me a long time ago and pursued the defensive line thing, you’d be playing it for awhile and been that much more experienced.”Courtesy of Case Western Reserve AthleticsWhat helps set Brown apart is his preparation, Debeljak said. Brown will come out from a meeting and go on the field and walk through all of the things the coaches talked about, such as footwork, on his own. That’s something Debeljak said he rarely ever sees other players do.A lot of his work ethic can be attributed to what he was exposed to growing up in NBA facilities, Brown said. His father agreed.“He’s seen a guy like LeBron James in the gym on an off day busting his behind, getting better on the court, in the weight room or wherever…” Mike said. “Most kids think that he walks into a phone booth, takes off his clothes and comes out as super-LeBron. But in reality the extra time that LeBron spends in the gym or the weight room, taking care of his body and so on and so forth, is remarkable, especially based on how good of a player he already is.”Part of Brown’s preparation is knowing it’s not just about lifting the most weight. Debeljak said he takes excellent care of his body, utilizing the Golden State Warriors’ medical staff and training staff that’s available to him in the off-season. In addition, Brown emphasizes stretching and yoga with a trainer. “I think he recognizes that it’s not all about strength, it’s certainly about athleticism and the stretching that’s the one thing that makes him stand out,” Debeljak said. “He really can move and put himself in position because he is so flexible and so fluid with his movements that not a lot of defensive lineman at our level can do.” Brown spends a lot of time with the Warriors, either streaming their games while at school or attending games in the offseason. His father does the same with Case Western Reserve football. The pair talk on the phone or FaceTime almost every day.There are many perks that come with having an NBA coach for a father. Brown often travels with the team and has been part of the past two NBA Finals, which both ended with Golden State hoisting the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.But Mike has always tried to avoid his sons getting special treatment, something Brown is thankful for. Mike didn’t want anyone thinking they had a spot on the court or field because of who he was.“My whole thing was, ‘Hey, you guys got to even try to go out there and worker harder than the next guy because of who you are in order to prove to people you’re worthy of anything that comes your way,’” Mike said.Brown isn’t sure what he will do as a career. In the summer he has worked as an intern, now a high-ranking one, at the Las Vegas Summer League through a connection with his father’s agent. However, one thing is for sure: his future will involve sports.“It’s been such a big part of my life,” Brown said. “I’m not sure what I would be without it.” Published on November 21, 2018 at 8:33 am Contact Eric: [email protected] Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img