Corey Brewer: The good life

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 27, 2007 - 7:06 PM

The rookie grew up in a trailer in Tennessee and now is living the NBA dream. Through it all, he's made the journey with a smile.

PORTLAND, TENN.

The plywood backboard is weathered and warped, the concrete court cracked and crumbling on the edge of what new Timberwolf Corey Brewer calls his "little country town" in the rolling hills north of Nashville.

Of course, this little patch of earth -- beside the ramshackle trailer where he was raised and the pen where his pet goat still bleats -- that cultivated a tiny tobacco worker and transformed him into a sinewy two-time NCAA champion and NBA lottery pick wasn't always this way.

"You should have seen Corey's face the day they came and poured it," his mother, Glenda, said, gesturing to a buckled 12-foot-by-12-foot section of cement.

Then as now, there was an incisor-revealing smile that has defined his life from those days when he toddled behind his father into the farm fields before the sun rose until today, when those who know him best suggest he sign his next endorsement deal with Colgate.

When he was young, his middle-school teacher telephoned his mother at work one day and asked her to fetch her son because he clearly wasn't feeling well.

Glenda Brewer asked what was wrong.

He's not smiling.

"All his life, if I go through his pictures, every one I've seen has got that smile," his mother said. "He was a happy child. There was a reason he smiled. I'm going to tell you why he smiled. See, I've found, we have love. We love each other. You've got to love each other."

The original basket on the Brewers' backyard court in the dirt was adjustable, and Corey and his older half-brother raised and lowered it and shot so much that it broke.

"Then we got another basket," Corey Brewer said, "and we broke that one, too."

So his father made his own by tacking plywood and a hoop to a metal pole.

"That one's been up there since I was 12," he said. "That was some good wood."

'I know how to work'

His dad's name is Ellis. But everyone in Portland -- an agricultural hub of Sumner County and a growing bedroom community of 11,000 people about 35 miles north of Nashville -- calls him Pee Wee.

Pee Wee hauled garbage, worked in a ladder-manufacturing factory and a slaughterhouse and farmed corn, soybeans and tobacco, whatever it took to earn a living.

Every morning since he can remember, Corey Brewer followed his dad into the nearby tobacco fields on his grandmother's 70-acre farm while his mother worked in the factories. They shared long drives through the countryside to sell pigs in Dixon, Tenn., and tobacco in Springfield.

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  • WOLVES SEASON OPENER 7 p.m. Friday vs. Denver, Target Center, Ch. 45, 106.1-FM COMING THIS WEEK Tuesday: NBA season preview: Is the East on the rise? Friday: Meet Al Jefferson and the rest of the new Wolves THE BREWER FILE Height: 6-9 • Weight: 185 pounds Position: F/G • Age: 21 (born March 5, 1986) College: Florida • Acquired: No. overall 7 pick, 2007 draft ON COREY BREWER The Wolves’ first-round pick himself and those people close to him on the two-time NCAA champion: Wolves teammate and former Florida teammate Chris Richard on Brewer’s hometown of Portland, Tenn.: “I’ve never been there. If Corey ever had some kind of charitable event, I’d go because I love doing those. But just for my leisure time, just to go for a vacation? Under no circumstances. Why would I? I’m from Florida. He’s small-town Tennessee. He has goats. We don’t have goats. I had a couple, two dogs, but no goats.” High school coach Tris Kington on the move from two-time national champ Florida to a completely remade, youthful Wolves team: “Minnesota’s going to have a rough year. I don’t know how he’s going to handle it. He’s never been a loser. In junior high, he won. Here, he won all the time. I’ve talked to him about it. One of my favorite sayings is you find out who your winners are when you lose. Guys that are losers get their heads down, start blaming their teammates, start blaming the coach. I’m going to be calling and talking to him and do everything I can. I hope he doesn’t get his head down.” Pee Wee Brewer on his son: “He loves to work. That’s probably why he plays ball so hard.” Corey Brewer on Corey Brewer: “I don’t know. I don’t lose. I don’t think about losing. I can’t worry about that happening.”
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