Drew Brees Book Excerpt: 'Coming Back Stronger'

Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees writes about his extraordinary comeback after injury.

ByABC News via logo
June 9, 2010, 10:02 PM

July 6, 2010— -- A year ago, television cameras surrounded New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees in an emotional moment as he hoisted his son after an astonishing Super Bowl win.

For the man who was named Most Valuable Player of the Super Bowl that year, such a turnout was the climax of an inspiring comeback story that started with a near career-ending injury.

Read an excerpt of Brees book below, and then head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.

When I held up my son, Baylen, after the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIV, with confetti streaming down all around us, it was the fulfillment of a dream. But what I've discovered along the way is that the road to success is usually a pretty bumpy one. And there are no shortcuts.

They say you need three skills to be a great quarterback: toughness, intelligence, and heart. Although I didn't officially start training to become a quarterback until I was in high school, in a way, I guess God has been preparing me for that role all my life.I had a great childhood, but it wasn't always easy. Then again, neither is life. And neither is football. As a kid, I got teased a lot because of a distinguishing birthmark on my right cheek. My mom and dad used to tell me that was where an angel had kissed me, but the kids at school didn't quite see it that way. They used to tease me and take jabs at me in the classroom and on the playground, saying things like "What happened to your face?" or "Wipe that stuff off your face." I couldn't help but get in a few scraps over it.

When I was little, the pediatrician gave my parents the option of having it removed because there was a chance it could become cancerous, but in spite of all the harassment I took at school, I decided to keep it. Instead of seeing it as a bad thing, I chose to see it as something that made me unique and special. It set me apart from everyone else. In a way, it became my trademark.

Looking back, I guess it might have been smarter to remove it, because why take a chance on it becoming cancerous? I even had it biopsied a few years ago, and I still see the derma¬tologist every once in a while to make sure it's okay, but now it's just a part of who I am. I wouldn't consider cutting off my arm. Neither would I cut off my birthmark. If I had ever been forced to remove it, I would have been devastated. My good friends who have known me a long time say they don't even see it anymore. If I had it removed, they would notice, but now they don't see it at all. They just see me.

In some ways, I guess you could say it was a character builder that helped me develop an inner toughness and an ability to shake off jabs and criticism. Not a bad trait to have as a quarter¬back in the NFL—or in any job, for that matter.A Lineage of Competition

If you look at pictures of me as a child, you'll see the birthmark, but you'll also almost always see me holding a football or a baseball. As far back as I can remember, football has been a part of my life.

When I was growing up, my father would throw to me in the yard, but my constant playmate was my brother, Reid. He's two and a half years younger than I am, and we played all the time in our little yard in Austin, Texas. Our "field" was a patch of grass that was about as big as a good-size living room. Trees bordered the yard, and those were our sidelines. The invisible goal lines were clearly defined in our minds, so we knew when we scored.

There's a big gap when a fifth grader plays against a second grader or when a sixth grader plays against a third grader, so to make it fair, I would get down on my knees and Reid would try to run around me. And it wasn't touch football—we were really tackling each other, and I would try anything I could to take him down. Even though I was scrambling on my knees, Reid still got beat up on quite a bit. Sometimes my dad would come out, and he'd play all-time quarterback, but most of the time it was just Reid and me.

I grew up in a very sports-minded family. My mother, Mina, was very athletic. In the late 1960s she was all-state in high school track, volleyball, and basketball. If she were playing today, she'd have gotten an athletic scholarship to just about any school in the country for any of those sports. But at that time women weren't given many of those opportunities. She decided to attend Texas A&M, which had been an all-male military school. My mother was in one of the first classes of women to attend Texas A&M. It was there that she met my dad, an athlete himself who played freshman basketball.

My mom's brother, Marty Akins, was an All-American quar-terback at the University of Texas. Marty was part of the Longhorns team that beat Alabama and Bear Bryant in the 1973 Cotton Bowl.

My mom's father, Ray Akins, was a Marine and served in World War II. After the war he coached high school football for thirty-eight years, winning 302 games in his career. He was a legend in the state of Texas, and best of all, he was my grandfather. He coached at Gregory-Portland High School in Portland, Texas, just outside Corpus Christi. He used to let Reid and me attend his summer two-a-day practices. From the time I was about seven years old, right around my parents' divorce, until my grandfather stopped coaching in 1988, Reid and I would stand on the sidelines and hand out this green water to the players during breaks. It was something like Gatorade—green because of the electrolytes mixed in. I always felt like my grandpa was ahead of his time with that kind of stuff. It didn't matter what Reid and I were doing—it was a thrill just to be that close to the game and the ¬players. I never would have guessed back then that I'd be on the other side someday.