Gary Brackett has tackled countless challenges in his football career while triumphing over life’s adversities. After being recognized as a star football player for Glassboro High School, Brackett went unnoticed by major universities. When Rutgers extended an opportunity at the last possible moment, Brackett succeeded as one of the standouts on the team that constantly struggled to win on the field.
Given the low Division I exposure, Brackett felt his NFL dreams slipping away. When a make-shift local combine was announced, Brackett hustled his way onto the radar of a Indianapolis Colts scout. Though he went undrafted, Brackett received an invitation to the Colts camp with an opportunity to make the squad.
Sheer determination, hustle and heart caught the attention of Coach Dungy and Brackett earned a spot on the team. The boy from a small town in New Jersey now stood on the shoulders of giants in the NFL.
However, Brackett’s professional success would soon be mired by a litany of personal tragedy. The string of events would cause even the most resolute among us to question everything. Over the course of a 3-year period, his best friend, father, mother and brother would pass away in separate occurrences.
Each time, these tragedies required Brackett to dig deeper and push harder with the understanding that “tomorrow is not guaranteed.” On February 4th, 2007 Brackett, along with his Indianapolis Colts family, achieved the pinnacle of success in sports when they defeated the Chicago Bears to win Super Bowl XLI.
In that moment, Brackett couldn’t help but reflect on a journey of courage,
loss and perseverance. Through a combination of grit and guts, Gary Brackett’s
journey is one of inspiration.
When someone embodies faith, they feel complete confidence in something or someone. My mother cemented the idea of faith in my life at a very young age. Religious in nature, she deeply believed in the power of prayer. When I would come to her for advice, she would say, “Have you prayed about it? You should work as if everything depends on you, and pray as if everything depends upon God.” Those words have consistently served me well throughout the journey of my life.
“We were the type of family that, right or wrong, we stuck up for each other.”
– Gary Brackett.
Growing up on the streets of Camden, followed by Glassboro, NJ wasn’t the easiest childhood, but it was our childhood. Gangs, drugs, violence were always palpable in the air. But somehow, someway, I largely avoided those vices. Driven by the fact that I needed to do better in order to enhance and lift my family.
When Reggie White came to speak one day, he spoke of “dreaming big and reaching for the clouds… because, even if you miss, you’ll be among the stars.” That visit was paramount to my goal of becoming a pro. His speech helped me define a goal, a path. To distill the impossible. Even if others laughed, I knew that oneday…someway, somehow…I was going to play in the NFL.