With A Heavy Heart, Journey Brown Conquers Football

By Jarrod Prugar on December 1, 2019 at 12:08 pm
Nov 30, 2019; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Journey Brown (4) runs with the ball while avoiding a tackle during the fourth quarter against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Rutgers 27-6. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
© Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

If you take a quick look at the dictionary, you might find Journey Brown's photo beside the word journey. And after a trip through the mind and story of Brown, you'd understand why that could be plausible.

Much like his name, his life has been in fact a journey, a journey through adversity, from Meadville, PA. to University Park where he's making more than just a name for himself – he's beginning to leave a legacy.

When Brown suits up on Saturdays, he plays for both of his families – his blood relatives and his teammates. He plays for those who are gone and those who are still alive. And on this Saturday afternoon in November, he played for a cousin who passed earlier this week as well as his late Nana who passed last year.

So it was no surprise when the broadcast showed Brown crying in position coach Ja'Juan Seider's arms after his first score of the day.

"My cousin, he passed away not too long ago, actually this week," Brown said. "Just that first touchdown, I knew I was playing for him today...I just get very emotional when I think about that stuff."

According to head coach James Franklin, the adversity Brown has had to overcome has helped make him such a special player for Penn State this year. 

"In my 24 years, I don't think I've been around a kid who has overcome more adversity in his life than him."

Leave it to Brown to downplay what his coach had said about him as he's one of the more complementary guys when giving interviews. 

"I wouldn't say more than any player, I'd just say he knows most of my business," Brown said. "I feel like I have just family support, getting me through it. Just playing for the people back at home, the people in Meadville, my family up here.

That's how I get through all the adversity that I've been through in my life because these people that surround me, they support me a lot. I couldn't do it without them, all the people that sacrifice for me."

Playing through adversity is just one of the many ways Brown is creating his own journey with the Nittany Lions as his typical self-described unique self.

"I'm unique I guess you could say, not trying to toot my own horn," Brown said. "Funny, I'm a good looking guy, I'm fast I guess you could say, I'm really good at video games, a people person, charismatic and people just seem to gravitate to me. I love to be around people."

Despite the charisma and uniqueness, losing a loved one is an emotional journey that varies based on the person. While some channel it into extra energy there are others, like Brown, who turn it into a deeper purpose, channeling it into their 'why'. 

"It just gives me another why, why do I love this game, why do what I do, why do I want to get up every morning and roll out of bed," Brown said. "When I roll out of bed, I think about the people who are still here, I think about what I have to do for my family up here at Penn State and my family back at home."

The redshirt sophomore running back might still be on his way to figuring out his 'whys' but what's for certain is he's more than willing to and capable of channeling those emotions toward the greater good for both himself and his teammates.

"I learned at a young age how to channel my emotions and put it to the right things," Brown said.

And from there, he channels the loss, the love and the experiences into what he considers his 'escape, his gateway,' football.

"I just took all that energy and put it in my game. That's why I wear my Nana on my neck and have her tatted on me so I never really forget," Brown said. "Just use that as power, that's something nobody can take away from me.

It just always channels into football, that's my escape, my gateway, it's what I love to do. I just take how I love those people, how I love my family, how I love this family and channel it into what I love to do."

There are not many definites in life, but what is for sure is that no matter what happens along the journey, Brown will be more than ready to handle whatever comes his way on the field or in life.

And in the most Journey Brown-way possible he summed it up as simply as this –

"You might not get what you want, but you've got to be grateful with what you have."