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Journey Brown Shines Again While Playing With Heavy Heart

Journey Brown is no stranger to adversity, and he dealt with even more of that in the buildup to Saturday’s game between Penn State football and Rutgers.

“In my 24 years [as a football coach], I don’t think I’ve been around a kid who has overcome more adversity in his life than him,” head coach James Franklin said following the Nittany Lions’ 27-6 victory over Rutgers. “He had some more this past week. He’s a special, special kid. He always has a huge smile on his face, he’s very appreciative of Penn State, he’s been phenomenal, and I could not be more proud of him.”

Brown’s cousin, Paige Fabela, passed away on November 24 at the age of 17. The Big Ten Network’s cameras caught him embracing Ja’Juan Seider on the sideline following his first touchdown of the Nittany Lions’ 27-6 victory over Rutgers on Saturday evening.

The redshirt sophomore running back definitely didn’t disappoint in putting on a show for his late cousin. He racked up 103 rushing yards and scored three touchdowns on 16 carries in the Nittany Lions’ win over the Scarlet Knights. This was his third 100-yard rushing effort in Penn State’s past four games, and his hat trick pushed his season total of touchdowns to 10.

“I knew I was playing for him today — for my uncle Donny, my little cousin Camryn, for Brandon, Sandra, Jordyn, Connie, and my grandma,” Brown said. “I get very emotional when I think of that kind of stuff. I had to put on for my little cousin.”

James Franklin talks about how much of a family-oriented atmosphere he wants to instill within Penn State’s football program quite a bit. Brown said that was on full display following his cousin’s passing.

He got lots of support from his teammates and coaches, and those people combined with his family back home in Meadville, Pennsylvania. The running back said the support he receives from family and friends helps him deal with the adversity he faces in life.

“I feel like I just have family support — the people back at home in Meadville — and my family up here, my Penn State family,” Brown said. “My coaches, my boys, my best friends and stuff — that’s how I get through adversity. The people around me support me a lot, and I couldn’t do it without them.”

Family has always been an important part of Brown’s life, and that’s on full display thanks to the tribute to his grandmother he wears every game. He told the Big Ten Network that he wears a band around his neck in honor of his grandmother, who passed away on October 22, 2018.

The front of the band says “NANA,” and the back spells out his grandmother’s initials.

“She’s always been that person for me. That was my girl,” Brown told the Big Ten Network. “We’d watch football all the time together — sit there, eat ice cream, chill, crack jokes on each other. I always told her that I do it for her. I still play football to this day for her, and I just want people to know that’s who I do it for.”

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]


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