BOSTON (CBS) — Patriots quarterback Tom Brady long ago cemented himself as one of the all-time greats in New England sports. But he’s never forgotten his roots.
A graduate of Serra High School in San Mateo, California, Brady has remained a part of that community. It’s a community that was rocked with devastation in August, when 20-year-old junior baseball player Calvin Riley, originally from Lowell, Massachusetts, was gunned down in San Francisco in August while playing Pokemon Go.
Riley played baseball for Serra after his family moved out west in 2011, and shortly after the murder, Serra football coach Patrick Walsh reached out to Brady via text message to see if the QB could help in any way. Brady was anxious to do what he could after hearing about the tragedy, and penned a two-page letter to the Riley family.
The letter was delivered to Calvin’s parents, Sean and Kariann, by John Kirby, who caught passes from “Tommy” during Brady’s high school days and is a close friend of the Riley family. Sports Illustrated’s Tim Layden wrote a wonderful article about Brady’s letter on Wednesday, detailing how a small gesture went a long way for the grieving family:
Brady was in training camp at the time, his last Deflategate appeal having been rejected in late July, and his four-game suspension awaiting. His letter arrived at Kirby’s house and Kirby hand-delivered it to the Rileys. They did not know it was coming. “Then I get it, and it’s just surreal,” says Riley. “Tom Brady. And it’s two pages, handwritten. It would have been easy to send a card or an email. It tells you what kind of human being he is.”
Riley declined to share the exact content of the letter. But when asked if it provided comfort, he says, “Of course it did. It celebrated the life of my kid. Tom talked about the brotherhood of the people at Serra, what a special community it is. That letter, it meant so much. My kid took so much pride in being part of Serra. And he really did love Tom Brady. I can’t say that enough.”
The letter itself was not released, and the Patriots did not comment beyond confirming that Brady wrote to the family.
“That doesn’t surprise me, either,” Layden was told by Father Joe Bradley, the priest who celebrated Riley’s funeral and has known Brady since he attended Serra High. “He’s very generous, and I’ve asked him to let me talk about some of the stuff he does. But he just doesn’t want that recognition.”
Patriots fans are well aware of Brady’s impact in the community, and the humanity he’s displayed throughout his career. But it stretches far more than just the New England area, and while this particular story is the product of a devastating loss of life, it shows just how close Brady remains to the community that raised him to become the man he is today.