Mothers of SEC Players Who Make Us Stand Up And Cheer
Recently graduated Georgia player Davin Bellamy’s mother, Bridget Bellamy, is a special education teacher at the high school he attended. She raised him as a single mother, and the two have an undeniable bond. Bridget has only flown in a plane two times in her life—both trips to see her son play football. After a video of Davin telling 2017 Heisman trophy winner Baker Mayfield to “humble himself” following this year’s Rose Bowl went viral, Davin decided to capitalize on the message’s popularity. Davin created t-shirts and sweatshirts touting the words, and Bridget wore a “humble yourself” shirt while watching him play in the 2018 national championship game. The idea of being humble was not new to Davin, who Bridget brought up in a religious environment, always reminding him that scripture calls Christians to “humble themselves before God.” Bridget often sends Davin Bible verses to motivate him, and she sends him a “good game” text after every game. Davin has said that if he’s drafted into the NFL, his first purchase will be a new house for his mom.
Just a freshman in the 2017 season, University of Alabama running back Najee Harris is already a knockout player. Although he’s receiving star treatment as one of the country’s best upcoming college football players, Harris has had anything but an easy go of it. Growing up around California’s Bay Area, Harris, his siblings, and his mom, Tianna Hicks, were often homeless, staying in shelters, hotels, and at times, cars. His mother, after leaving Harris’s abusive father who dealt with several addictions, got a degree to start a career in the medical field. As a child, football was a way to keep Najee busy, and for his mom, a way to know he was somewhere safe after school. When Harris committed to Alabama, Hicks moved across the country from California to be closer to him and support his college career. Although she lives in Birmingham for her job in the city’s prestigious medical community, she sees her son every week, and they keep their Sunday church tradition together. We have a feeling this mother-son duo will keep that Sunday tradition wherever Harris might end up in the future.
Connie Davis Jefferson
A middle school teacher once told Auburn linebacker DeShaun Davis’s mother, “You did a terrible job raising your son, he’d be dead or in jail before he can make it out of high school.” Davis took his pain and frustration over that teacher’s words and let it motivate him throughout his high school and college years. He didn’t want to let his single mother, Connie Davis Jefferson, down. Before every football game since that time, he pounds his chest three times to represent the words “prove them wrong.” On December 16, 2017, Davis proved that teacher wrong when he became the third person in his family to graduate college. Instead of simply walking across the stage, he danced. While celebrating with family and friends after his graduation ceremony, Davis read his mother, whose name in his phone is “My Everything,” a poem describing his growth and owing it all to her. Davis will pursue a master’s degree this year during his final season for Auburn, which will allow him to continue a special game day tradition he shares with his mom. Before each game, Davis texts his mom and asks her to send him a picture of where she’s sitting. When he gets on the field before the game, he gazes over the stadium until he finds her. He says that in order to play well, he has to put his eyes on his mom to see her smile before he can touch the football that day. Throughout the game, he finds her in the audience for reassurance, and the two point at each other after big plays. After reading the story of this mother and son, we need to excuse ourselves for some tissues.
Former Mizzou defensive end Charles Harris didn’t have to learn about perseverance on the field; his mother, Deborah Clark, was the only example he needed. Clark was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when Harris was in grade school. Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. The disease can be completely debilitating, and Clark herself is confined to a wheel chair with very little access to travel, constricting her to her parents’ home. Although Harris, who only began football his junior year of high school, didn’t have many colleges looking his way for recruitment, he doesn’t let discouraging circumstances bother him. Instead, like his mom, he perseveres. That attitude, one that has won him praise from every coach he’s played for, is what earned him a spot as a first-round draft pick to the Miami Dolphins last year. Instead of going to the draft in Philadelphia to walk on stage in front of a crowd and receive praise, Harris watched it at home. His mom couldn’t travel to see it in person, and he wanted to be with her for the moment. After being drafted, he could’ve taken that NFL paycheck and put it toward himself, but he bought his mother a new house and a new wheelchair-accessible van, allowing her the opportunity to travel. Clark’s life with MS has inspired Harris in multiple ways. Before he was drafted into the NFL, he majored in health science at Mizzou with hopes of becoming an occupational or physical therapist to help those fighting MS. Maybe one day he’ll get back to that dream, but for now, his mama can watch her son play professional football from the comfort of her new home. She might even be able to see a game in person with a trip in her new van.
Former University of Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett was picked 14th overall in the 2017 draft, after which he became a Super Bowl champion with the Philadelphia Eagles. Ask him how he got there? His mama, of course. Christine Barnett worked multiple jobs to support her three kids by herself. Derek was the youngest, and his two siblings were grown and out of the house while he was still in grade school. Dividing her time between jobs and watching him play football could involve arriving home around 4 a.m. from the night shift at UPS and waking up at 7 a.m. to see Derek off to school. She waitressed on the weekends, sometimes at separate restaurants working back-to-back shifts, but she earned enough to send Derek to Brentwood Academy, a private school in Nashville, Tennessee. For Christine, education always came first. The goal was to get a high school diploma and a college degree, whether or not football came with it. A self-proclaimed mama’s boy, Derek chose to go to Tennessee, not only because of its reputable football program in arguably the best college football league, but because he didn’t want to be too far from his mom. Even at 6’ 3” and 259 pounds, he will never be ashamed about loving his mama. Derek left college to join the NFL before graduation, so Christine made a deal with him that he finish his degree taking online courses after his first year with the Eagles. Christine is no longer working three jobs, but she won’t give up her job at UPS. Derek’s contract is worth millions, but she refuses to quit working until she knows that he is financially set for life. He urged her to quit her job and relax, but she told him to act as if this first contract is the last he’ll ever get. That incredible work ethic is what inspired Derek to reach as far as he has. Just Google it—you’ll be hard-pressed to find an interview during which he doesn’t praise his mama.
Kay Daniels says she’s a “proud super mom,” and as a mom of not one, but two SEC football players, no one could disagree. A single mom of four boys, Daniels didn’t have it easy raising them. Less than two years apart, brothers Calvin and Riley Ridley shared a moment this year that not many (if any) brothers will ever experience. Although the brothers played for the same football teams growing up, the two played against each other for the college national championship title, one for the University of Alabama, the other for the University of Georgia. The good news for Daniels? It was one game she didn’t have to split her time for. Between the two boys’ schedules, Daniels travels most weekends during the season, switching off between teams. At each boy’s game, she wears the corresponding numbers and team colors for that son. You might think the national championship game posed a wardrobe problem for her, but not so. Daniels kept her bipartisanship and wore a self-made shirt, which depicted both her sons in their respective uniforms. When the brothers met in an emotional moment on the field after the game, they switched jerseys in support of each other. We can only imagine how proud their mama was watching them. Calvin, the older brother and a receiver for Alabama, is expected to be a first-round NFL draft pick this year. Riley, the younger of the two and a receiver for Georgia, has more time to play in college before he’s possibly drafted as well. Calvin has said he’s going to buy his mama a big house when he gets drafted, and the brothers already plan to put their money together if they both end up in the NFL. Daniels, who hadn’t flown on a plane before she began traveling to watch Calvin play for Alabama, will rack up plenty of frequent flyer miles. She'll also have to add a few new jerseys to her wardrobe.