New England Patriots wide receiver Brian Tyms may not play a down in Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday, but even being at the game is a testament to his heart and dedication in the midst of chaos.
Tyms’ parents were drug addicts who abused him at a young age, he said. He was removed from his home by the Department of Children and Families at age 12 and he was placed in a foster home in Pembroke Pines. It was in that home where his foster father, Peter Pender, a teacher at Dillard High School, got him to start playing football, Tyms said.
At first, Tyms said he never imagined the game he was playing would take him anywhere.
“When I was playing high school football, my senior year, I wasn’t really thinking about going to the NFL," Tyms told NBC 6’s Adam Kuperstein. "I was just playing it to stay out of trouble."
After high school, Tyms split from his foster parents — he said he was hard-headed and needed to mature. Tyms ended up living in his 1994 Lexus on the streets of South Florida and working at McDonald’s.
“Shoot, that car I was living in, you know what I’m saying, I ain’t trying to go back to that,” Tyms said of his journey. “So I grind and I hustle.”
Around the time he was living in his car, he decided to get away from South Florida and enrolled at Tallahassee Community College. His talents on the field help him get recruited to Florida A&M University, where he excelled as a wide receiver.
NFL scouts took notice and soon he was getting his shot in the NFL. But even that didn’t come easy for Tyms. He was cut by the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 and then the Miami Dolphins couldn’t find room on the roster for him. But last summer, his life changed again.
The New England Patriots signed the 6’3” receiver and he made the team. He even caught his first career touchdown pass this year, a 43-yard reception on a pass thrown by quarterback Tom Brady.
While that might be the end of the story for some, Tyms said everything in his past is driving him today to even greater heights.
“I went from dead broke, you know, to come up, you know what I mean,” Tyms said. “So I think about it every day. Every morning I wake up, if I don’t feel like moving, I think about where I was.”
And on the eve of the biggest game a professional football player will ever see, Tyms will have his own family — fiancé Christal and his two young children in Arizona — to cheer on their dad and the New England Patriots.
“Everything I didn’t have I try to give it to them,” Tyms told NBC 6. “All the love I couldn’t get, I give to them. I just try to make it so they don’t have any worries at all. They’ll never have to see what I went through.”
The only thing that will be missing for Tyms on Sunday will be his foster parents. Kuperstein talked with the family in South Florida and they said it was just too expensive to get to the game. However, they are looking forward to getting together after the big game to celebrate a Patriots victory, they said.