Jason Brown had already drawn a lot of attention for his decision to leave the NFL and become a farmer that donates his crops.

Then his wife had a baby. On their 1,000-acre farm.

And Brown was the one who handled the delivery.

After Brown's wife started into labor, assistance was slow to reach the farm in Louisburg, N.C. The labor moved so quickly that by the time help arrived, Brown had already welcomed his son into the world.

"It was an incredible experience," Brown told The News & Observer. "It was unbelievable."

The couple had planned to do a home birth, but Brown had no intention of taking the snap.

This might not be the last you hear about Jason Brown. He reportedly has interest from several TV outlets to do a reality series focused on his family and his efforts to combat hunger by farming for free.

But the former St. Louis Rams center told those outlets that he needs a little time with his infant before thinking about reality TV.

The plan was to get a snack before the game started. But on the concourse of Kauffman Stadium, Stephanie Hetherington had a troubling realization.

"I think my water broke," she said to her husband, Jason.

Although the two had joked for at least a week in advance that they would be having their baby at Kauffman Stadium, the playful banter suddenly seemed a reality.

But this was Game 1 of the World Series, Kansas City's first in 29 years. Stephanie didn't want to miss it. She decided they would go back to their seats, watch the start of the game and play it by ear.

Before they even sat down, her body was telling her it was time to go. They walked out before the first pitch, going against the flow of fans leaving the stadium.

Jason said the stadium personnel grabbed them a golf cart to shuttle them back to her car. All the while, though, Stephanie was distraught.

"My wife was basically in tears," he said.

They watched Game 1 from the hospital as their third child's arrival drew close. Even though the Royals went on to lose that game, Stephanie wanted the baby to be born the same night at the World Series game.

"At 11:30 she looked at the doctor and said, 'we're having this baby tonight," Jason said.

Ali Hetherington arrived at 11:49.

Jason and Stephanie had already planned on getting tickets for Game 6, but his employer, Burns & McDonnell, ended up having space in the company's dugout suites behind third base.

Jason and Stephanie got to watch Game 6 from that field-level vantage point -- with Ali in tow for her first Royals baseball game.

"She’s got her little Royals shirt on," Jason said.

Pretty good start to your first week of life.

Here's how much Gloria Vaughn loves to watch her grandson, Kevin Hensley, play soccer: Five years ago she flipped her car on the road while driving to his high school match. When the emergency responders arrived, they found her uninjured, but asked her to have a relative come and take her home.

Disappointed but uninjured, Vaughan called her daughter -- Kevin's mother -- for a ride. When her daughter arrived, Vaughan got in the car and asked: Can't you just take me to Kevin's game?

"I enjoy watching him," Vaughan says now, "and I know he worries a bit when I'm not at his game."

Five years later, little has changed: Gloria Vaughan just wants to watch her grandson play soccer. It's a bigger challenge than it seems. Since Hensley's tournaments often take him overseas, his 74-year-old grandmother is forced to make do with inconsistent Internet feeds, and sometimes just by following the matches on Twitter.

Vaughan doesn't complain, though, because she knows what a gift it is that Hensley is able to play soccer at all. Those dreams were in serious doubt eight years ago, when a freak accident during a soccer match caused a stroke that weakened the right side of Hensley's body.

After coming home from a soccer match where he had whipped his head brutally after going up for a header, Hensley collapsed onto the floor.

His parents were out Christmas shopping at the time. When they returned home, they found their son semi-conscious on the ground, unable to coherently speak. He was 14 at the time.

Hensley was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a stroke caused by his injury at the game. The stroke hindered the motor functioning of his right side and required months of rehab and recovery, but the partial paralysis wasn't enough to stop him from finishing his high school soccer career.

He even earned a soccer scholarship to Carson-Newman University in Tennessee, but had to quit after his memory problems affected his academic standing.

"I would sit there and study for four hours at a time, and I wouldn't remember anything," Hensley says.

When he left school, it seemed like Hensley's soccer career was over -- at least from a competitive standpoint. In Memphis he found work as an assistant soccer coach for the Mid-South Football Club, and invested himself into that profession. He was blindsided earlier this year when he got a phone call from Stuart Sharp.

Sharp had just been named head coach for the U.S. Paralympic National Soccer team, and he had stumbled across Hensley's story online. The Paralympic National team is comprised of individuals who are ambulatory but have a physical challenge resulting from cerebral palsy, a traumatic brain injury, or stroke. The coach invited Hensley out to California to train with the team.

The 22-year-old leaped at the opportunity, and he hasn't looked back. With the Paralympic team, he estimates he spends about 100 days a year away from home. International tournaments have taken him to Spain, Canada and England, so far, with more trips on the horizon.

Those far-flung trips are great for getting to see the world, but they make it tough for Vaughan to keep up. At 74, long international flights are too much of a physical burden. But when she found out about her grandson's tournament in Toronto, Vaughan knew that was a possibility. Then, her senior living facility presented her with an opportunity to "make a wish."

Vaughan didn't have to think twice.

A few weeks before the tournament was to take place, Vaughan was told that her wish was granted: Brookdale Senior Living, in partnership with Wish of a Lifetime, would be paying to send her to Toronto to watch Hensley play.

"I was over-the-moon happy," Vaughan says.

Vaughan flew up and watched the U.S. Paralympic team compete in two matches. After one of the game, she was brought onto the field to meet the coaches, the team manager, and every player on the team. The group gave her an autographed flag and posed for pictures with her.

"It made me feel so special, and of course and I can't help but say the whole team earned a place in my heart," Vaughan says. "They've all got a story of their own that's so much richer than mine, because they've worked so hard to get where they are."

Hensley is quick to point out that his grandmother does know a thing or two about survival: By his count, she's survived quadruple bypass surgery, breast cancer, diabetes and back surgery.

"She's been a constant battler," Hensley says.

Vaughan has also been someone her grandson has always turned to for comfort and advice, even on his toughest days.

"From what she's been through to what I've been through, she's always been my crutch, my best friend my entire life," Hensley says. "She's always been there whenever I needed to talk about sports, about life."

After a third-place finish at the Toronto tournament Hensley's Paralympic squad looks ahead to qualifying for the 2016 Paralympics World Cup in Brazil. That journey will take the team to far-off places around the globe -- and, hopefully, back somewhere close to home.

After what she considers "the best trip of my life," Vaughn is determined: she wants to watch Hensley play in person again. Almost a month after her wish was granted, the grandmother still feels like she's living a dream.

"No one's gone and interviewed me before," she says. "Even when I turned my car over, they didn't interview me."

Terry Pegula had some important news to share with his daughter, so he sent her a three-word text that pretty much summed it up.

Pegula is the billionaire owner of the Buffalo Sabres and, as of Wednesday, the Buffalo Bills. After the sale of the franchise to Pegula was unanimously approved, Pegula sent this text this his 20-year-old daughter, Jesse:


Not a bad text to receive during tennis practice. Jesse, by the way, is a professional tennis player who trains in South Florida.

It wasn't as if this was a surprise -- most people assumed the sale would go through. But you've got to love Pegula's concise way of delivering the big news.

Pegula and his wife, Kim, bought the Bills for $1.4 billion from the family of late owner Ralph Wilson. Wilson paid $25,000 to buy the team in 1959.

With the Mariners at 79-64, postseason baseball is on the minds of most Seattle fans. On Monday, the Mariners stretched their success with a 4-1 home win over the Astros. Along the way, Logan Morrison hit a ground rule double in the second inning.

The ball found its way to a man, presumably a father, holding a baby.

The baby, rocking Steve Bartman headphones and possibly a onesie, gets an close-up view of the ball…and takes advantage. The baby, as many babies would, decides to take a chomp at the ball. While there is no clear sign of this baby having teeth grown in already, he or she brings his or her best bite to the baseball.

It does not get much more hipster than a Mariners fan taking his baby to a Monday evening baseball game with the boys. Perhaps the mother would have been appalled at her child licking dirt from Safeco Field.

Most important to Mariners fans was the bite to Felix Hernandez's ball. The former Cy Young Award winner pitched shutout innings in the victory (although, he recorded a no decision).

Novak Djokovic is the world's No. 1. He has seven Grand Slam titles, including this year's Wimbledon. He has more than $65 million in career earnings and is poised to cash in big again at this year's U.S. Open.

But it's also a complicated time in Djokovic's career. Djokovic married Jelena Ristic in July after proposing last September. Ristic was pregnant at the time of his their wedding -- and she still is. But Ristic, who started dating him in 2005, is expecting to deliver any day now.

The baby's schedule might not mesh with Djokovic's. There is still more than a week left in the tournament, and Djokovic has made four straight finals in Flushing Meadows, winning in 2011.

Djokovic mentioned earlier in the week that his life is going through some changes with a wife and baby on the way. After his second-round victory over Paul-Henri Mathieu of France, Djokovic had the following half-serious, half-comedic, exchange with a reporter:

Q. You were talking the other day about a shift in priorities when you have a family. Now you're in a Grand Slam campaign. Talk about the experience of trying to maybe return that focus for at least a fortnight to the job at hand.
DJOKOVIC: Well, my focus is there. I don't understand how the people really got what I said, but I don't think there is anything wrong. Actually, I think it would be much wrong if my tennis is in front of my baby and my wife. I think there is no question about it. You know, my full priorities and commitments and energy goes to my family as much as I need to, but that doesn't mean that I'm not gonna play tournaments or not going to continue on doing what I was doing so far. Of course I'm doing everything that I can, respecting the same daily routines that I had for many years with my team. And it's working well. Of course this is what I want to do well. I have big support from my wife, from my family, from my team. We are all on the same page. There is nothing significant that is going to change. But of course baby comes, and now when I'm married - if you were married, you would understand.

Q. I am.
DJOKOVIC: Right.

Q. Kids and all.
DJOKOVIC: I'm sure you get this -- you get a lot of questions (smiling).

After talking about his tennis for a bit, the subject of his future child returned again. Djokovic was asked about his plans to play for the Serbian Davis Cup team. Although Djokovic says he is currently expecting to play, he did mention his long-distance communication with Ristic.

"My wife is not here. I haven't seen her for a while. I just see stomach is growing on Skype and Facetime, but I want to spend some time with her," Djokovic said.

The image of Djokovic Facetiming his pregnant wife in the players' lounge is a humanizing thought. Djokovic may be the best tennis player on the planet, but he is also a husband awaiting a future child. It will be intriguing to see how such a circumstance affects his play in Flushing Meadows the next few rounds.

In addition to being traded from the Rockets to the Lakers, Jeremy Lin has been busy posting videos on social media this summer, and for the second time, he decided to victimize his mother in a prank.

To celebrate her birthday, Lin got a raspberry-chocolate cake, her favorite.

Then with a blindside attack, he smushed her face into the cake, and documented the moment with this Instagram video:

This cake caper took place just two weeks after Lin delivered thunderous dunks on unsuspecting friends and family, including his mom:

Lin also put his own twist on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by allowing himself to be thrown into the ocean, which was the eco-friendly approach because it saved water.

If all this activity weren't enough, don't forget about his starring in a viral video called Jeremy Lin Goes Hollywood that includes his playing the piano and participating in a musical dance number.




Imagine for a moment that you're a teenage athlete. You’ve loved sports as long as you can remember, and squeeze in as many as you can: Football in the fall, basketball in the winter, baseball in the spring and summer. The problem, at least in the eyes of some of the adults in your life, is that your love is too promiscuous. You feel constant pressure to pick just one.

Your football coach wants you and your teammates to spend your offseason loading the barbell like powerlifters and filling cafeteria trays like sumo wrestlers. The local AAU coach wants you to play basketball on his team through the spring and summer, making you more accessible to college recruiters. And the hitting instructor your father hired wants you to play baseball year-round: high school in the spring, travel teams in the summer, and showcases in the fall and winter.

Now imagine instead that you're the parent of a kid who’s good at just about anything he or she tries. On the one hand, it’s every dad’s dream to watch your son or daughter play hard and not just enjoy the experience, but dominate the competition. On the other, you’re hearing a steady stream of advice from coaches, trainers, college recruiters, and perhaps even pro scouts. “Your kid is good, but if Jack/Jackie doesn’t focus on one sport, he/she is going to fall behind.” (Make it a win-win-win situation for you, your child, and the team when coaching your kid in sports.)

And there goes that scholarship you were counting on when you tithed 10 percent of your income on camps, travel teams, and private coaches. So should you push your kid to focus on his or her best sport, and train for it year-round?

“Parents are constantly asking me that question,” says John Graham, CSCS, who runs St. Luke's Sports and Human Performance Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. “I’ve always endorsed kids playing multiple sports. It's better for them from a physiological standpoint. The kids who play multiple sports become better athletically.”

Graham speaks from both personal and professional experience. For the past three decades, he’s trained athletes in just about every individual and team sport. On any given day at St. Luke’s, you might see him training tiny 8-year-old gymnasts, massive pro football players, or anything in between.

Before that, he lettered in three sports in high school -- football, basketball, track -- and also played rec-league baseball in the summer. He believes that broad foundation helped him earn a football scholarship to Pitt in the early 1980s. "I tell parents I don’t think I would've been capable of playing at that level if I hadn’t played multiple sports.” (Train your kids to be successful young athletes with good coaching and guidance. Learn the 3 Ways to Spot a 'Friday Night Tykes' Coach.)

BAD EXAMPLES

Kids and parents alike can be seduced by the success of the outlier. There’s Lionel Messi, the world’s best soccer player, who was more or less a pro at 11 years old. (He needed expensive medical treatments, which his current team, Barcelona, offered to provide if he joined their youth program.) There’s Tiger Woods, who hit golf balls on The Mike Douglas Show when he was just 2, won his first tournament at 8, and was ranked No. 1 in the world at 21. More recently, there’s Bryce Harper, who started his baseball career as a 3-year-old playing T ball against kids twice his age, and who regularly played more than 100 travel-team games a summer before he was drafted first overall in 2010 and signed a contract that guaranteed him $9 million.

Given those examples, most of us assume an athlete who wants to reach the highest level should focus on that goal from the earliest possible age, and pursue it to the exclusion of everything else.
You'd think that's the message athletes get at Cressey Sports Performance in Hudson, Massachusetts. In the 2014 baseball draft, 18 of the 1,215 players selected trained with owner Eric Cressey and his coaches, including six of the top 100. If any facility stands as a shrine to sports specialization, it should be this one. But Cressey says the truth is the opposite.

“You rarely see someone who played only baseball all the way through go on to have a successful career in the big leagues,” he says, noting that you have to be a good athlete before you can be a good baseball player. (What makes a successful parent? Discover how your mistakes will affect your children in ways you can't anticipate and avoid the 6 Easy Ways to Screw Up Your Kids .)

Some of the athletes he trains start off as just that -- the best in any sport they pursue. But not all.

"I'm constantly amazed at how many late bloomers" develop into successful college players, and eventually become pro prospects, he says. “They weren’t great athletes at a young age, but that broad range of abilities made it possible for them to become great in a specific sport.”

Lack of athletic development isn’t the only risk of early specialization. "We know it leads to more injuries," Cressey says. “The more kids play, the more they get hurt before they turn 18."

A 2012 review in Sports Health notes that young pitchers who throw more than 100 innings per year have 3.5 times more injuries than those who pitch less. And pitchers who throw more than eight months a year are five times more likely to require elbow or shoulder surgery.

Baseball is hardly alone. In any sport, the review says, “increased exposure was the most important risk factor for injury.” The more an athlete trains and competes in a sport, and the higher the competitive level, the greater the risk.

Athletes may be most vulnerable during “peak height velocity” -- that is, the middle of their biggest growth spurt. That's when the risk of fractures is highest. Boys typically hit that peak between 12 and 16, while for girls it's between 9 and 13. (What is the Secret to Athletic Success? Stop comparing your kids to others.)

Competitive athletes aren’t the only ones at risk. My son, for example, grew six inches in about six months when he was 14. Near the end of that growth spurt he went on a weeklong, 50-mile backpacking trip with his Boy Scout troop. He complained of knee pain for years afterwards.

NOT ALL CHOICES ARE GOOD CHOICES
For all the downsides to early specialization, there are certainly times when it’s the best and perhaps only option. Sports that challenge balance in unique ways and require complex timing --gymnastics, figure skating, diving, and perhaps skiing -- require an early start. Kids have to get in by kindergarten or first grade to have any hope of reaching elite levels. Those are also some of the most expensive and demanding sports for both parents and athletes, which further limits the field.

Female golfers and tennis players also tend to commit to those sports when most kids are still learning to tie their own shoes.

In other situations, a kid simply may not want to play more than one sport. “If an athlete truly finds a pure passion, I have no issues with the athlete playing just that one sport, even at a young age,” says Lee Taft, CSCS, owner of Sports Speed, Etc., in New Castle, Indiana.

The athletic qualities they miss out on by focusing on one sport can be developed in a good training program, Taft says. “As coaches, we can use warmups, off-season, and pre-season to generalize workouts.”

Another reason to specialize: to mitigate injury risk. Graham offers an example: Aaron Gray, a 7-foot-tall basketball star, also played football in high school. “By his junior year, he worried he might get injured if he kept playing football,” Graham says. Focusing on basketball was the more prudent course, and it seems to have worked: Gray, a defense-and-rebounding specialist, has spent seven years in the NBA after four years in college.

The same might also apply to a slightly built baseball player, Graham adds. The larger his athletic portfolio, the greater his risk of a career-ending injury.

Yet another risk, Cressey notes, comes with being the guy we all wished we could be in high school: the star quarterback who’s also a star pitcher. He could end up throwing 12 months a year, if he participates in baseball showcases and football camps between the two seasons. Although it dramatically improves his odds of dating a cheerleader, the injury risk is enormous.

If you want to learn hundreds of doctor-approved, do-it-yourself fixes for every sports injury imaginable, check out The Athlete's Book of Home Remedies.

Cliff Paul is a household name and he does not even exist. The State Farm marketing character, the fictional identical twin to basketball star Chris Paul, is a fixture of TV, print and web commercials. Of course, in reality, he is Chris Paul with a fake mustache and glasses.

The Los Angeles Clippers guard has run with the joke, appearing side-by-side with Cliff. The brothers were separated at birth but have since bonded over their genetics. Both have a natural skill with assists, Chris dishing the rock in Lob City and Cliff dealing with insurance clients.

Thanks to Simply Measured, a Seattle-based social media analytics platform, the world has an infographic detailing the marketing impact of Cliff Paul. Cliff has Twitter and Instagram pages, which have helped him register a high Klout:

The legend of Cliff Paul is only rising. He has added a shoe in the Jordan Brand line–Chris' Jordan CP3 design in argyle. Cliff's likeness was featured is featured in NBA 2K14 and Chris' real life son Chris Jr. is now cast as both Chris Jr. and Cliff Jr. in State Farm commercials, including a recent cut with Warriors star Stephen Curry.

Using two test cases -- the Cliff Paul campaign's official launch and the February All-Star Weekend push -- Simply Measured analyzed the impact of Cliff. What they found was a whole lot of positivity on State Farm's end. For an insurance and financial services company, 23 million impressions in one December makes for a Merry Christmas.

Cliff Paul (@CliffPaul) has more than 80,000 followers on Instagam and 33,000 on Twitter. Chris Paul (@CP3) has about 2 million on Instagram and 3.45 million on Twitter.

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees spent a great deal of his offseason generating buzz with his intense workouts. First, there was this flying pushup that went viral. Then in a recent Sports Illustrated article, Brees walked through his sessions at Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego with trainer Todd Durkin.

But Brees doesn't let his freakish workouts dominate his offseason. Instead, he spends it doing a lot more important things, mainly spending time with his family.

Brees and his wife, Brittany, are always on the run with their three sons, Baylen, 5, Bowen, 3, and Callen, 1.

"We had all kinds of cool adventures," Brees said. "We spent a lot of time swimming. The kids are just kind of learning how to swim, so there was a lot of time in the pool."

The pool wasn't the only thing Brees and his sons enjoyed. They watched some World Cup soccer, decked out in USA jerseys, met Mickey and rode some rides in Disney World, and spent some time hanging out with Marines at MCAS Miramar in San Diego. And though the three boys are pretty close in age, their all into something different.

"It's funny to see the personality differences between all of them," Brees said. "My youngest, Callen, just loves anything sports related. Any ball. Football, baseball, basketball, soccer, you name it. It's what he wants to do. Bowen is kind of into the action figure. We were simulating all kinds of games with Iron Man, Batman and Spiderman.


"Baylen is super creative. He just comes with all kinds of different and crazy games, whether it's based upon Toy Story and we're Woody and Buzz Lightyear, or we're stormtroopers, or we're whatever kind of thing he's coming up with. It's awesome. It's great being a Dad."

And when he's not doing rip-trainer exercises, flex-T rotational lunges or building crazy Lego creations, Brees spends his time helping others through the Brees Dream Foundation, which works toward improving the quality of life in cancer patients and raising money for schooling. The organization was able to donate $1.5 million to benefit organizations around the country, but primarily helping the Hurricane Sandy Recover organization for the New York and New Jersey areas.

Brees also partnered up with Academy Award winning actor Matthew McConaughey and his Just Keep Livin Foundation for the Amazing Race, which is a miniature version of the reality television show. Teams of four go all through the French Quarter in New Orleans, searching for clues and solving riddles. Brees and McConaughey raised more than $750,000 to help children organizations and causes in the New Orleans area. And at the end of the night, the contestants headed to the House of Blues for a Kenny Chesney performance.

"He rocked," Brees said. "It was an acoustical performance, and it was fantastic."

Now that the NFL training camp period is underway, Brees now finds time to fit football into his already busy schedule, and work with some new guys. Brees' pass-heavy offense lost longtime target Lance Moore and jitterbug Darren Sproles, but he does have a new weapon in Brandin Cooks, the 20th pick of the NFL draft. The former Oregon State receiver and Brees have worked hard at getting on the right page.

"I really like him," Brees said. "Not only (because of) his talent and all of the different ways we can use him, but he's a great individual. You can see he's got great character, integrity, loves football. Loves to work, wants to be great. Those are all things you want in a young talented receiver."

He and the Saints are once again considered favorites to make a push toward the Super Bowl, where they haven't been since 2010.

"Everybody feels that way right now," Brees said, when asked if the team had what it takes to win the Super Bowl. "We're excited about the opportunity for it. We have as good a chance as any."

As Brees' offseason winds down to an end, an offseason filled with physical training, both with weights and hyper toddlers, his next off season will be joined by a new member of the Brees clan. Drew and Brittany are expecting a baby girl at the end of August, and her three older brothers are excited for her arrival.

"It's kind of what they were rooting for back when we didn't know if it was a boy or a girl," Brees said. "We'd ask ‘hey, do you want another brother or a baby sister?' And they all wanted a baby sister. We are really excited."

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