MONTICELLO (WCIA) — Every summer, Monticello grad Chris Brown spends his summer like most kids. He works for the family business, but his upbringing hasn’t been like most. The Sages running back spent most of his early years in Rantoul, living with other family members after his biological mother wasn’t able to take care of him.
“If I didn’t come here I probably wouldn’t be where I’m at now,” says Brown.
Brown, the oldest of four, also had to take care of his younger siblings when he was just 7 years old causing him to miss two years of elementary school. Then, at 11 years old, he was put in foster care.
“I was heartbroken because I got taken away from my siblings,” says Brown. “And my birth mom always told me to take care of them.”
He spent a month in five different homes, before living with the Browns.
“It was posed to us, would we want to adopt him?” says Brown’s adopted father, Blair. “We asked him, ‘What do you think?’ He was home. He’s been part of the family since the first day and we didn’t even know it.”
Chris was adopted at 13 years old, and became part of their family of 12. Through connections his adopted parents made to other foster families, he was able to keep in touch with his biological siblings as well.
“We always text each other, every once in a while they’ll come up,” says Brown. “Or we’ll go down to see them.”
Living with the Brown’s is when Chris got his first taste of organized football — starting with JFL and working his way into the Monticello varsity team and scoring as a freshman.
“I was very excited,” says Brown. “Coach even came up to me after and said, ‘I know what you can do.’ He was just very happy for me.”
“Not to many kids to get to contribute like that as a freshman, he was never satisfied where he was,” says Monticello head coach Cully Welter. “He definitely continued to try to progress, continued to try to listen.”
Brown’s work went on to fuel a run which culminated in a dominant senior year. 371 rushing yards, 9 touchdowns on the ground, including six in one game. He also tacked on five more scores, and 158 receiving yards — all of it helping Monticello to an undefeated season.
“I know that we would have made it to the playoffs and probably would’ve made it to state too. If we had the nine games or 12 games we could’ve went farther, or maybe could’ve won state.”
The outstanding year helped catch the eye Mid-America Nazarene in Olathe, Kansas, the 20-year old committing to the Pioneers in this spring.
“They really like my speed,” says Brown. “It’s been my dream to play in the NFL since I was little, I’ve always wanted to play at the next level.”
Being hundreds of miles away from both of his families this Fall will be a new experience for Brown, but he’s ready for the new adventure as the WCIA 3 Boys’ Athlete of the Year. Brown is the winner of a $500 scholarship, selected as one of two Athlete of the Week award winners.