Rattler overcomes asthma, adversity

Just six more interceptions this year and junior free safety Levy Brown will pass Superman for the Division I-AA single season record.

Dean Cain, the former star of “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” had 12 for Princeton University in 1987.

Brown is tied with Alabama State’s Antwan Hill for the national lead with seven interceptions. At his current pace Brown could break the record by season’ s end.

However, he must first overcome an injured rotator cuff he sustained in the first quarter of Saturday’s 31-13 loss to South Carolina State.

To any doubters, Brown is not a person to bet against. A product of the Lincoln Field housing projects in the Liberty City section of Miami, Brown has battled adversity and hardships throughout his football career and life.

“I’m determined for greatness on and off the field,” Brown said.

Brown is an asthmatic who lost his mother when he was 11-years-old, to an asthma attack.

“She was my backbone,” Brown said. “No words can describe my mother.”

He recalls that night in 1990 when his mother died. Earlier in the evening he had a conversation with her in which he asked if she would always be there for him. Later Janice Brown succumbed to an asthma attack in front of his four sisters.

“When they told me what happened I lost it,” said Brown, who wears her name on his left glove each game in tribute. “A lot of people prayed for me.”

When he has trouble breathing he doesn’t think about his mother and while he is playing football he doesn’t think about his asthma.

“Asthma is simple,” Brown said. “It’s a mind thing. If you think about it you will have an attack so I focus on something else.”

His maturity has impressed Brown’s aunt Ida Brown, who raised him after his mother died. “He left Miami as a boy and each time he comes home I see a mature man,” she said.

She weeps tears of joy when she sees his success and said that her sister is somewhere smiling.

“I did right by her boy,” she said. “I know I raised Levy right. I know I did a good job.”

Billy Rolle, Miami Killian High School’s head football coach, was Brown’ s coach at Miami Northwestern High School.

“Levy is a natural leader and always has something to prove,” Rolle said.

Rolle said he has been impressed by the amount of ground that Brown covers, a skill he says Brown has improved upon greatly since high school.

Rolle, a defensive back at FAMU from 1979-1982 made sure Brown become a Rattler when Division I-A schools such as Miami and Florida were turned off by his size.

Brown’ s godbrother is Antonio Bryant, a wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, with played with him at Northwestern High. Bryant said since they were little kids growing up in Miami, he’s always had a competitive spirit.

“He always goes hard in practice,” Bryant said. “He’s a great team player and a great leader.”

Head coach Billy Joe said Brown has transformed from an inexperienced raw talent into a quality football player.

“Levy has worked relentlessly, made a lot of sacrifices, and has perfected his craft,” Joe said. “He is playing extraordinary football.”

Brown credits God for his breakout season.

“I give all thanks to the Lord,” Brown said. “Right now I’m receiving all the blessings that I’ve been waiting on.”