When high school football coach Sam Greiner had to drop star quarterback Braheam Murphy due to his poor grades, he was disappointed. In time, though, Sam began to realize what was really going on with the young man. Then, one day, he took the teen home with him.
In many ways, life hadn’t been kind to Braheam Murphy. Indeed, when Braheam was just five years old, his mother was killed by a brain aneurysm. And after that tragic loss, family life had understandably never been quite the same for him.
But Braheam’s father went on to marry again, and he would have a little girl with his new wife. Braheam’s half-sister turned out to have cerebral palsy, though, and her disability proved challenging for the family. As a result, Braheam’s dad struggled to give all three of his children the attention that they needed.
In fact, it eventually became clear that Braheam and his older sister weren’t priorities in their new family. “My dad loves me, but he had to take care of my little sister,” Braheam told CNN in December 2017. “I’d rather have my little sister being taken care of more than me.”
Braheam found some escape from his difficult family situation in football, however. Meanwhile, in late summer 2015 Sam Greiner was in his first year as head coach at Harding University High School, and he was in charge of turning the football team around.
And reversing the team’s fortunes may have seemed like a tall order at first, as they had only won one game the previous season. Even more shockingly, Sam had so few players at his disposal that it was a struggle to even fill out the roster. That’s why he was glad to have a player like Braheam on his books.
Sam may have been disappointed to learn, then, that Braheam’s poor grades meant that he had to leave the team. As the coach would later tell CNN, “The athletic director comes to me and is like, ‘By the way, Braheam Murphy and some other guys are not eligible [to play].’ And I was like ‘Braheam’s not eligible?’ I was blown away, because he’s so smart.”
Seeing the potential that Braheam had, though, Sam refused to give up on him. And as a result, he took the teen under his wing and would frequently offer him rides home. However, Sam soon came to notice something unusual about Braheam’s home life.
Specifically, each time the coach dropped off the football prodigy, it was at a different location. Consequently, Sam began to grow concerned about Braheam’s welfare. Little did he know, though, that the teen was practically homeless.
Sam later explained how he had become aware of the situation to CNN. “I didn’t know it at first,” he said. “I didn’t know that Braheam didn’t have a home. Eventually, he just opened up to me, and he was like, ‘I have to stay with my sister from place to place.’”
Indeed, as time had passed, Braheam and his sister had spent less and less time at their father’s home. “A lot of times I’d stay at my friends’ houses,” Braheam explained. “We’d go back and forth.” Effectively, he said, he “couch-surfed.”
That revelation tugged on Sam’s heartstrings, and so he went back to his office to do some soul-searching. In the end, then, the coach decided to call his wife, Connie, to ask her permission to bring Braheam home for the night.
Fortunately, Connie agreed. So, within a matter of hours after the phone call, Braheam was sitting down for dinner with Connie, Sam and Charli and Journi, the couple’s two little girls. And it’s perhaps fair to say that the family were happy to have the high school student under their roof.
That’s because that one night would eventually turn into two years. Now, Sam and his wife see Braheam as a son, meaning that their daughters also have a big brother. “Braheam just became a family member,” Sam said to CNN. “He’s been living with us ever since.”
And the Greiner family didn’t just provide Braheam with a roof over his head. They also gave him something much more important – stability and the confidence to shine. Braheam explained to CNN, “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.”
Indeed, over time, Braheam’s grades were transformed. Before long, in fact, he was an A-grade student and was able to play football once again. And working alongside his coach, the teen played a part in turning around the fortunes of his school’s football team.
In December 2017 Braheam even helped his side to win the North Carolina high school state championship, scoring a dramatic touchdown in the final minutes of the game. The moment was naturally a special one for Braheam and Sam, and it became symbolic of everything that they’d achieved together.
Describing the victory, Sam said to CNN, “It was just an amazing experience. We knew we could get there, but the situation of winning the state championship… What we overcame… And it all came full circle. Greatest moment ever to have your family experience that – it really was.”
What’s more, Sam and Braheam’s triumph turned out to be the best leaving present that the teen could have hoped for. That’s because the young football player has set his sights on attending the United States Military Academy at West Point. And Braheam’s adoptive family couldn’t have been prouder of how his life has changed.
Indeed, Sam would later tell CNN, “[Braheam’s] doing a ‘family-tree changer.’ I never had an opportunity to go to West Point. He’s better than me. Connie is now trying to go to college, get her career in order.” The coach added, “Maybe, one day, we’ll be working for our own son.”