Bracken said whenever he would get into trouble or abusive activity started, he would go running.
“I ran everywhere,” he said. “And I got good at running.”
He became a track star in junior high school and then started playing football.
“I was 6’2” and 190 pounds in the eighth grade,” he said. “It was 1976 and I played at Woodberry Junior High School. Football was a violent outlet that helped me deal with some of my issues.”
He said one day after track practice his brother picked him up and took him on a drug bender. Bracken woke up two days later and went running.
“I started having chest pains and collapsed face down in the dirt,” he said. “I had an epiphany, or moment of clarity. In the dirt, I realized I had a choice. I didn’t know how, but I knew I could. I decided in that moment that I wanted to be a pro football player and a lawyer.”
From then on, he said, he started studying and working out. His grades went from a C/D average to straight As. He still had many trials, but he did go on to play football at Georgia Tech even after his mother kicked him out of the house when he was 15.
He didn’t play in the NFL, but he did have a chance to and decided to pursue other interests instead.
BDHS football players Timothy Fields and Chaz Stringer said his story was inspiring.
“I was surprised about how black his childhood was,” Fields said. “I thought it was interesting how he said his mother taught him about hard work but that she didn’t care about him. As the story went on, it all came to light.”
Stringer said the story was touching from beginning to end.