December 25, 1997 in Sports

Moore’s Drive Stays As True As His Word Not Home For The Holidays As WSU Prepares For Its First Rose Bowl Appearance Since 1931, Three Members Of The Cougars Talk About Life, Family And Playing On New Year’s Day

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Brandon Moore

When Brandon Moore left for Washington State University in 1993, he vowed to be different, telling his parents and five older siblings that he would not only excel in athletics, but finish school as well.

Moore is making good on his promise, and then some.

The 6-foot, 220-pound linebacker is a week away from starting in the 84th Rose Bowl - to be played a mere 28 miles from the family home in Carson - and he’s on pace to become the first of Roy and Josephine Moore’s children to earn a four-year degree.

“I kept my promise,” Moore said. “I’ve been through some hard times, so it’s very special for them to see me grow and prosper.”

The only regret is that Josephine Moore isn’t around to share in one of the family’s proudest moments. She died in 1995, leaving an everlasting void.

“We just make do and just be happy for our brother and support him the best way we know how,” said 31-year-old Rosalind, Brandon’s only sister.

Their support was evident Sunday, when the family gathered at 19112 Kemp St., the brown, two-story home in Carson where three of Brandon’s brothers still live.

Brandon’s fan club that day included father Roy, Rosalind, brothers Derrick (32), Damon (30), Avery (28) and Mario (24), nephew Damon Jr. (8), uncle Dennis and grandparents Clyde and Mary Lewis.

For them, the Rose Bowl is more than just a football game between eighth-ranked WSU and top-ranked Michigan. It is a symbol of Brandon’s success and a testament to the Christian faith that has given the family strength through difficult times.

“It’s so meaningful because of the fact that my mom’s not here and I know the hardship that has been on Brandon as well as our family,” said Rosalind, “and for him to accomplish what he has accomplished through that stress, it’s even more meaningful.”

After every game, Brandon kneels in prayer and sends a kiss skyward to his mother.

“He’s still got his hope in Jesus Christ,” said Roy, Brandon’s father. “That’s the main thing.”

Brandon’s journey began in Compton, where he was raised through elementary school, and continued in neighboring Carson, an industrial center that includes the Shell Oil Products Plant and a giant Arco refinery.

Compton’s image as a tough, gang-ridden community is in direct contrast to the environment Roy and Josephine Moore fostered inside the home.

“There are some very good people that come out of Compton, which we are,” said Rosalind, who lives in Compton with her husband and works at Xscape, a beauty salon. “We grew up in a loving, kind, religious, stable, safe, protective environment in the home.”

A poem entitled “Don’t Quit” still hangs in the kitchen at the home in Carson. Roy recites it from memory:

“When things go wrong, as they sometimes will; when the road you’re trudging seems all uphill; when the funds are low, and the debts are high; and you want to smile, but you have to sigh; when care is pressing you down a bit, rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

“Life is queer with its twists and turns, as everyone of us sometimes learns. And many a failure turns about, when he might have won had he stuck it out.

“Don’t give up though the pace seems slow; you may succeed with another blow. Success is failure turned inside out, the silver tint of the clouds of doubt.

“And you never can tell how close you are. It may be near when it seems so far. So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit. It’s when things seem lost that you must not quit.”

It’s a lesson Brandon never forgot, whether he was struggling with schoolwork as a freshman or dealing with his mother’s death. Because he never quit, he is close to completing a double major in sociology and criminal justice, and he has turned himself into one of the best linebackers in the Pacific-10 Conference.

He was brilliant against Arizona State, making 20 tackles and two quarterback sacks. Moore also shined against Stanford, making a crucial interception that helped the Cougars to a 38-23 victory.

Win or lose, family support has been a constant.

When Brandon comes home to visit, he stays with Damon, Avery, Mario and Damon Jr. in the old family home on Kemp Street.

The rest of the family is never far away.

Roy, who has remarried, lives in Gardena and is a general contractor for Los Angeles County.

Derrick, a former standout receiver at Long Beach City College and Northwest Missouri State in the mid-1980s, is married and preaches at a non-denominational church in Los Angeles.

Damon, a top linebacker at Cerritos Junior College and Cal State Fullerton in the late ‘80s, works for Hertz Corporation at Los Angeles International Airport.

His playing weight was 190 pounds, light for a linebacker, but he made up for it with an aggressive style that Brandon tries to emulate.

“He’s a crazy, Dick Butkus-type guy,” Brandon said. “Go out, kill ‘em, just throw your body into him, get 90 tackles a game.”

Avery was a star receiver at Cerritos and went on to catch passes from David Klingler at the University of Houston from 1990-91. Avery works at a post office in Long Beach, but he is better known for his exploits as a practical joker.

He recently convinced the family that Michigan cornerback and Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson would be Brandon’s guest for Christmas dinner. In reality, Brandon had never even met Woodson.

“Everybody was all excited,” Brandon said, laughing at the thought. “And my family members called me up and said, ‘Wow, is Charles Woodson really coming over?’ I had to tell them otherwise.”

Mario, meanwhile, is attending barber school while working for a security company in the Culver City area. He had asthma and did not play college football, but he counts himself among Brandon’s most dedicated fans.

They all do.

Even Rosalind, who doesn’t consider herself a football fan, has been overcome by the Rose Bowl experience.

“I can’t even express in words the joy that I feel that my brother, my baby brother, is a part of the Rose Bowl,” she said. “We wouldn’t miss that for nothing in the world. It’s like every time Brandon’s in the game, it’s Christmas.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 color photos

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