Despite coming off a season that saw them win only one game and a roster full of holes, Harding University High School had a reason to be optimistic for the following year.
For one, they had a fresh, fiery voice in new coach Sam Greiner. They also had a promising quarterback prospect named Braheam Murphy. Although raw, he flashed the kind of athleticism that could give the team a spark.
Greiner took a shine to Murphy and would often give him a ride home. However, it was rarely at the same place. Then one day, the teen dropped a bombshell.
“Eventually he just opened up to me. And he was like, ‘I have to stay with my sister from place to place,’ recalled Greiner to CNN.
Murphy revealed that his mother had passed away from a brain aneurism. Although his father remarried, he had a daughter born with cerebral palsy, which made it difficult to care for all three children.
Murphy said that while he understood his father’s position, he knew he had to do something.
My dad loves me, but he had to take care of my little sister, and I’d rather have my little sister being taken care of more than me.
From that point on, Murphy said he was ‘couch-surfing’, hopping from friend to friend, not knowing where he’d sleep each night.
A life-changing move
Greiner was instantly moved by the boy’s story.
I didn’t know what to do at the time, so I go into my office and I’m thinking, something’s tugging at my heart.
After some thought, Greiner called his wife Connie, asking if they could have a guest over for dinner who needed to stay the night. However one day turned into a week and one week turned into a month. Next thing he knew, Greiner said that Murphy “just became a family member.”
Connie added that the entire family- including their two small kids Charli and Journi- instantly embraced him as their own.
“They love him. That’s their brother. They don’t look at anything else– that’s their brother,” Connie Greiner said, smiling.
“He’s a family member of ours. I knew when I met the kid,” said Greiner.
His life transformed
Fast forward, and Murphy’s life has gone from hopeless to limitless.
He led Harding to a 14-1 record, capped by its first title since 1953. His 95-yard touchdown with less than two minutes sealed both the win and offensive MVP honors for the quarterback.
Murphy also thrived in the classroom. Once a struggling student, he boosted his GPA and plans to join the US military academy at West Point.
His secret to success?: Getting some extra-curricular caring.
I just know that when I have someone caring for me, I feel like it makes me do better in school and makes me want to do better in life.
In Murphy, Coach Greiner sees a role model he hopes other players would emulate.
“I think when they look at Braheam, it’s just pure evidence that you can overcome if you strive and believe,” Greiner said.
Ask Murphy, and he gives all credit to the one thing he thought he would never have.
They’re my family. And I can’t imagine where I would be without their support.
Ultimately, family isn’t about a shared blood type, name, or skin color. It’s about shared love and support without which we are lost. With it, like Murphy showed, it’s a super-team that can’t be stopped.
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