Besides family members and close friends, nobody knows Dallas Cowboy’s wide receiver Dez Bryant like Paul Solotaroff. The Rolling Stone writer got the opportunity to sit down and tell the multi-layered story of Dez from childhood until the signing of his new contract. This is one of the most interesting stories by a Dallas Cowboy, maybe in the entire NFL, player.
Birth and childhood
Let’s begin with child birth where Dez was mothered to 14-year-old Angela Bryant, who was statutory rapped by her mother’s boyfriend, MacArthur Hatton. Growing up in small duplex in Lufkin, Texas, the incident went unreported. Adding to the disorder, two more siblings were born from the parents. At age 18 Angela completed having kids.
As the story points out, Dez never had a stable home live in. By age eight his mother was behind bars for selling crack. Without checking into the family history, Dez was forced to live with his father, who had left to live with another woman who bore two other children.
A way out
Finally, as Dez describes it, a blessing happened. This is where in the story Dez gets the most emotional. After a year and half in prison, Angela took Dez to sign up for football. They were told to purchase their own equipment, so with no money and no way to play football, they headed back home. Then outside an abandoned duplex Dez saw a helmet with shoulder pads. He tried them on, perfect fit. It would later be his ticket out.
Still he needed schooling. With ten people living in a duplex the act of school was up to the kids. Dez was guided by teacher/coach Brooke Stafford, who talked about his learning struggles in Solotaroff’s article. “His disabilities were emotional, not intellectual, but he slipped through the cracks,” Stafford said. After squeezing three years of high school into 18 months, Dez was on his way to college where the school struggles continued.
Cowboys, David Wells and the new contract
In the 2010 NFL draft, the Cowboys traded up to pick 24 to draft Dez in the first round. This is where Cowboy fans see the rise to become one of the best NFL receivers in the league. Still as the contract talks loomed over this summer, some fans didn’t understand the problem with getting one of the most important players on the team paid. Like most people before the Rolling Stone article, Jerry Jones and Cowboy executives didn’t know too much about Dez. The sense from the Cowboys was that Dez is a troubled kid that needed to be chaperoned.
“When I got to Dallas, they had this picture of me as somebody that I wasn’t,” Dez said describing the short leash the Cowboys put on him. “I was this crazy dude who was out all the time and spending up his money left and right.”
This did seem to be the consensus around fans of the game. However, as close friends said, Dez avoided places like clubs and bars because he felt awkward around people he didn’t know. And alcohol? Hardly ever, and drugs? Never. Yet Dez was advised, practically forced, to connect with David Wells. Getting into what Wells does and why he is involved with the Cowboys deserves another full story, but simply think of Wells as being in charge of all finances Dez had after college. This lead to money being stolen from Dez. Both Wells and Dez dispute where the money went, but it didn’t matter what Wells said. Dez was done.
On to Roc Nation where Jones never got comfortable with, but it shouldn’t matter. All Dez wanted was the respect and yearly support, money was not a must, which leads to my favorite quote in the article from Dez.
“I came from nothing and I got no problem going back there. Mr. Jones thinks he knows me but he don’t know s***.”
Tension rose to measures that Cowboy fans didn’t know or expect, but finally Dez got his dues and appears to be a Cowboy for a long time. The Solotaroff article got inside the mind of one of the greatest sports rise to stardom. The word adversity gets loosely thrown around every year in the NFL season by players and coaches, but from birth until the final hour of the contract-deadline negotiations, Dez’s story creates a stronger meaning for the word. Why he went to Rolling Stone instead of a local sports outlet? No one really knows and journalists egos aside, no one should really care. An incredible story that was buried underneath an obviously tortured mind was revealed and now the public knows the full story of Dez Bryant.