GRIDLEY, Calif. -- Gridley High freshman Brian Brown lost his home to the Camp Fire and his mother a year before, but still finds the heart to keep running.
“I always try to push myself farther than anybody else. I know that I can’t be the strongest, fastest or tallest, but I always try to be the hardest worker out there,” said Brown.
Brown plays basketball and right now cross country for Head Coach Steve Allard.
“He’s talented, and competitive. Every time we have practice he’s always vying for that top spot because there’s Damian, he’s a senior, but Brian just got faster and stronger,” said Allard.
Brown doesn’t just stride for the top spot, but an outlet to feel free.
“About half way through, you just kind of get to that spot where you’re running and it’s just a blank, you’re free,” said Brown.
Brown’s mother Anna Brown died in 2017 from liver disease. She struggled with it since she was born.
“It was tough, but we got through it,” said Brown. “It’s still kind of hard when the day comes along but we get through it.”
Months after the Camp Fire destroyed the home his mother raised him in.
“It was already smoky, the sky was red, it was very hard to breathe,” said Brown. “A lot of kids are covering their face so we go home and my grandpa was actually asleep so he didn’t even know the fire was going on. I grabbed my mom’s ashes, some clothes and had and a couple gifts she gave me and we loaded up the SUV and started down Neal Road.”
Brown believes everything happens for a reason. The then seventh grader and his grandparents moved to Gridley, where he ran into Sydney Allard.
“We met in 7th grade in Mr. Cars class and I flipped around and said, ‘hi new kid,” said Allard.
Sidney is now Brian’s girlfriend. She introduced him to cross country and her father, who is the coach, Steve Allard.
“As a dad, it’s hard to approve of anyone, but as time went by you begin to appreciate the qualities he has as a young boy,” said Steve
Brown is now a frontrunner on his team and is on track to make varsity.
I never thought I would be doing it, I noticed it’s really fun, the team here is so supportive, we try to bring each other up like in our runs, whoever is last, we’re complimenting each other,” said Brown.
It was a rocky journey, but Brown now has a team and something to run for.
“After my mom passed I dedicate everything to her so as long as I am living the best life I could,” said Brown. Even with the fire, just because I am not living in the same house, doesn’t mean I can’t stride to where I need to go,” said Brown.