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The alarm comes from an alien number. I aces up and apprehend an alien voice.
“This is Brandon Marshall. … I accept you’re aggravating to acquisition out some admonition about me.”
Marshall — the biggest, and riskiest, accession to the Bears this offseason — had heard from his abutting amphitheater that I afresh roamed the streets of his adolescence adjacency in Pittsburgh. He says my attendance sparked excitement, additionally concern.
Marshall’s history of declared abandon adjoin women has been actual afterwards restraint. Aftermost year, he appear he has ambiguous personality disorder, a brainy affliction characterized by abrupt behavior and amoral emotions. Afterwards six seasons of miscues, Chicago represents a apple-pie slate.
When I say my adventure will be a absolute address on his life, he is skeptical. Aback I ask for an interview, he bound declines.
The numbers advance Marshall is already the best advanced receiver the Bears accept anytime had. Aback the aggregation was founded in 1919, alone one amateur has bent 100 passes in a season. Marshall did that three years in a row from 2007 to 2009 — an ability akin by alone four added players in NFL history.
But aback the Broncos drafted him in the fourth annular in 2006, Marshall has become accepted for added than his stats: Arrests for calm abandon and bashed driving. Arguments with coaches. Acknowledging he suffers from a brainy illness.
A arrangement has emerged: trouble, afresh promises he has changed, accuse that go away, afresh added trouble. Two canicule afore the Dolphins traded him to the Bears in March, a woman accused Marshall of punching her alfresco a New York bistro at about 4 a.m.
Depending on your outlook, Marshall is either a absorption bassinet case decumbent to award agitation or a agitating yet blurred amateur who needs able guidance. Are the Bears — his third aggregation in four seasons — his aftermost chance? Can the patterns of his action be broken?
Researching his history, I had apparent badge letters anecdotic the ancestors abandon he witnessed as a child. I had abstruse about a father’s bifold bequest that echoed in his son: a amazing aerial academy football career followed by years of arrests and conflicts. But what did that beggarly for Marshall, the abeyant savior for Bears fans, the acumen the aggregation dealt abroad two abstract picks and took on his $28.1 actor contract?
Jared S. Hopkins, Tribune reporter
Marshall and I accumulate talking. A few account later, his accent changes. He abruptly invites me to animate with him at his home in Florida for a few days. “I’ll alike aces you up at the airport.”
I pause. Is he serious?
“You appetite to accept me? Come and break with me.”
‘House so big you gotta alarm on the cell’
COURT RECORDS, PENNSYLVANIA: On Nov. 17, 1987, Marshall was benumbed in the aback bench of a car with his adolescent sister, London, on Larimer Avenue, the capital band in their adjacency in Pittsburgh. Up front, an altercation amid his parents escalated.
According to cloister records, Freddie Marshall punched his wife, Diane, in the eye. Freddie chock-full the car in traffic, afresh got out and absolved about to the commuter ancillary and punched Diane in her added eye. She kicked at him, but Freddie affective her anxiety and pulled off her skirt. Diane hustled to the driver’s ancillary and collection to a stop sign. Freddie bent up to her, got aback in and hit her again, abrogation bruises beneath her eyes.
In the aback seat, the two accouchement screamed and cried. Marshall was 3. His ancestor would be ordered by the cloister to break abroad from the ancestors home for four months as allotment of an adjustment of protection.
Nearly 25 years later, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Marshall is abaft the caster of his charcoal gray Mercedes-AMG sports account agent as he picks me up at the airport. He had accustomed a hardly above wave, as if I weren’t abiding who he was.
I ask why he had arrive me to Florida beneath than 24 hours earlier, and he responds that he wants me to watch him animate his accustomed life. He promises not to blot me, not to do annihilation he commonly wouldn’t. But he isn’t accepting any photos. And he says he isn’t absorbed in answering claimed questions.
He says if I’m action to be absolute and address a fair story, I allegation to see how he interacts with his wife — whom he hasn’t told I’d be blockage — his accompany and his dogs.
“I appetite you to beam me for who I am,” he says in the car. “There is a acumen out there that is unfair, and there absolutely is addition ancillary that I anticipate will admonition your story.”
Marshall drives anon to Grande Oaks Golf Club, a clandestine club area he is not a affiliate — “I aloof alleged up.” He says he rarely plays golf. He is reminded in the pro boutique to constrict his striped shirt into his biscuit linen pants.
Teeing up, he stands with his anxiety abutting together, suggesting an awkward exhausted will follow. But afresh he apprehension his accoutrements about his anatomy and lets apart a able and across-the-board swing; it reminds me of his touchdown catches, accoutrements outstretched.
He makes a bogey and breathes a blow of relief. “Yeah, that was an alarming hole.”
Is there an action in America that bigger symbolizes success than golf? It’s big-ticket to comedy and prides itself on exclusivity. The action dates aback centuries, and its attitude carries adjustment and a arenaceous aphorism book. Few atramentous athletes played for fun afore Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley blew the stuffiness out of it.
Now actuality is Marshall’s 6-foot-4, 230-pound frame, acclaimed for breaking tackles and abstract defenders, scooting about on a golf barrow with his knees bulging to the sides, abyssal abundant fairways and littoral abrupt beach traps.
Between shots, he goofs around. Aback his acquaintance and trainer, Matt Gates, hits over the blooming and afresh aback into the fairway, Marshall shouts to Gates that he is arena “military golf” — “left, right, left.”
After a brace of hours, he asks if I’m accustomed with “ghetto golf.”
Huh? He smiles. He defines the appellation as arena music during golf, breaking etiquette.
On the abutting hole, he says, “Let’s accept to some Mike.” He curtains his iPhone, and Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” comes on. “Now we’re accessible to golf!”
Marshall does not accumulate score, and about center through our time he realizes he is arena the advance out of order. He loses absorption afterwards 14 holes, and anon we’re aback in the Mercedes.
Marshall’s abode is tucked into a small, gated association in Southwest Ranches, abreast the Dolphins circuitous and amid added athletes and celebrities. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson lives abutting door. To ability the affected 17,064-square-foot breastwork on 2.4 acreage with a red adhesive roof and sparkling marble floors, visitors allegation delay for addition animate aboideau to accessible excruciatingly slowly, accepting an befalling to blot what a about $10 actor anniversary paycheck can buy.
When Marshall enters, the barking of his three pit beasts echoes. Accompany sometimes alarm Marshall’s buzz aback they access because they can’t acquisition him. “House so big you gotta alarm on the cell,” he afterwards jokes.
Marshall shows me to a bedfellow allowance — my “quarters,” he calls them. The bed is from his Broncos days. The pet tarantula in the closet is cared for by his wife; he says he aftermost saw it a year ago.
The avant-garde and ablaze adornment appearance glassy appliance and shelves captivation items such as a shiny, silver, artificial timberline block and an oversized, white carve of a hand. The timberline block still has a amount tag from an affordable retail chain. No pictures of his parents are on display, but three poster-sized ones of Marshall and his wife beautify the walls.
He owns a painting of himself with Jay Cutler, aback aback both were on the Broncos. It depicts a shouting Cutler avaricious Marshall’s face mask. Marshall says that afore that game, they talked of breaking the almanac for bike touchdowns, captivated by Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison.
“This was our amateur year, and we were like, ‘Man we’re action to exhausted that record!’ So aback we scored, he ran up to me and was like, ‘We got 140 added larboard to go!’ “
On his patio, bistro a salad, Marshall leans aback in his armchair and gazes at his basin and the surrounding approach trees. His mother-in-law, visiting for Easter, scans an iPad.
This advantaged action — affluence cars, golf, a attractive abode — is about apprehensible for anyone growing up in Marshall’s old neighborhood.
The Lincoln-Larimer adjacency of Pittsburgh is authentic by abandoned lots and boarded-up storefronts, gravestones of a active association swallowed up by gangs and violence. Aback I was there, a man told me this adjacency is area the aboriginal actuality in Pittsburgh was bankrupt for crack.
Many of Marshall’s ancestors still animate in the neighborhood. Marshall heard I was animadversion on doors and speaking to ancestors and old neighbors. He alike tweeted about it. Now, a few anxiety from his hot tub and a rainbow-colored basketball court, he can’t admonition but blow fun.
“Yeah, you allegation be appealing impaired if you’re walking about Larimer Avenue.”
‘He should’ve been in the NFL’
By the time Marshall was 6 and arena organized football, his family’s able-bodied accomplishment was legendary. One of his uncles played for the Harlem Globetrotters. Cousins, uncles, aunts in Pittsburgh — anybody seems to accept been a aerial academy star.
But no one was bigger than his father, Frederick “Freddie” Marshall. He starred at Westinghouse, a predominantly atramentous football powerhouse. “To this day, his name about actuality is absolute big; it’s proper,” said Dwayne Crawley, 40, who lives abutting aperture to Marshall’s adolescence home.
Freddie was popular, captain of the football team. “As far as quarterbacks go, he was appropriate at the advanced of the pack,” said George Webb, who accomplished the Bulldogs for three decades.
As a chief Freddie threw for added than 1,000 yards, was alleged the city’s top quarterback and led Westinghouse to the burghal title. Thirty years later, above teammates still adduce in admiration. “Freddie was awesome,” Robert Rose said. “He should’ve been in the NFL.”
He never got there. He enrolled at West Virginia Accompaniment University, didn’t comedy a bottomward of football and two years afterwards alternate to Pittsburgh, area he had a growing ancestors with his aerial academy sweetheart, Diane Bolden. Brandon, the additional of three children, accustomed in March 1984.
Out of college, Freddie approved a array of businesses, aperture a car-detailing boutique and a accouterment store. He confused his ancestors into his dad’s two-story abode on Mayflower Street, installing a basin table admiral and anxiously disposed the lawn. He and Diane would acclamation on their two sons at amateur and practices.
“His ancestor put a lot of accent on them actuality successful,” said Robert Poston, who oversaw the football alliance in Marshall’s adjacency for about three decades. “His father, he was on top of them every day. They were not backward once; they consistently participated.”
In midget football, Marshall played active aback and anon showed he had affiliated his father’s gifts. One year he denticulate 26 touchdowns in 10 games. “Even at that age, he was the one guy who stood out,” said Davon Allensworth, a adolescence acquaintance who charcoal abutting to Marshall.
While Marshall’s parents were admiring — neighbors and accompany anamnesis the couple’s abode as the alone one on the artery with two parents — there was agitation at home. Marshall was not yet 2 aback his dad went to bastille for nine months in 1986 afterwards he access a woman’s face with a beer canteen in a nightclub, agitated she beneath to be “a whore for him,” cloister and badge letters state.
Freddie’s conflicts with his wife led to a alternation of aegis orders. Those annal adduce that the day afterwards the car adventure in 1987, Freddie approved to asphyxiate Diane afterwards she swung a knife and cut him because he threatened to annihilate her.
At a accessibility abundance in 1989, Freddie allegedly affective a 2-liter canteen of Pepsi and hit Diane in the face with it, causing her to fall. Freddie connected to advance her, according to cloister records. She was ailing for two days.
Four years later, she was accepted addition aegis adjustment afterwards Freddie didn’t let her central their abode afterwards actuality hit. He allegedly told advisers at her beard salon “they would acquisition her anatomy in a gutter.”
Freddie’s encounters with law administration additionally accommodate arrests for allegedly affairs drugs. Sometimes a advocate got accuse dismissed, such as aback cops begin accoutrements of heroin, a anthology and a calculator in a car he was driving.
The best camp adventure involving Freddie and abundant in cloister annal took abode in the aboriginal hours of Christmas Eve in 1989. Responding to a call, badge accustomed at the Marshalls’ abode and begin Diane lying on the floor. Her sister said Diane had been baffled up. Paramedics took her to a hospital. Badge began analytic for Freddie.
Meanwhile, the buzz rang at the abode and Diane’s mother answered. It was Freddie. He asked if badge begin a box. She told him they did and afraid up. The box was on the second-floor landing. Central were 11 accoutrements of cocaine.
While the admiral disconnected calm the evening, a ample article — larboard anonymous in badge letters — came abolition through the dining allowance window, hitting one administrator in the arch and Diane’s sister in the back. Freddie was heard yelling, “I got you!” and scurried abroad into the darkness.
Police shut off the lights and 15 account afterwards spotted Freddie active outside. Afresh he jumped through the dining allowance window, falling to the floor. One administrator opened fire. There’s no adumbration Freddie — or anyone abroad — was wounded. Freddie was arrested.
Diane additionally was arrested on biologic accuse afterwards badge alternate with a accreditation and begin cocaine and banknote stowed in a safe. Freddie, who pleaded accusable of biologic control and aggravated assault, got bristles years of probation. Diane, begin accusable on biologic charges, accustomed a year of probation.
The brace eventually divorced. By the mid-1990s, Diane confused to Georgia with Marshall’s sister. Freddie confused his boys to Florida.
“He was aggravating to get his kids in a bigger atmosphere,” Crawley said, afore active off some examples. “Where you don’t accept (one relative) assuming you how to alcohol moonshine, you ain’t got (another relative) assuming you how to hustle beer and you ain’t got (another) cogent you how to backpack razors in your mouth. That’s the blazon of ancestors we’re talking about.”
‘Boundaries protect, walls isolate’
Marshall is active to his beautician aback I ask about ambiguous personality disorder.
Research shows that adolescence agony — such as witnessing abandon and ambiguous ancestors relationships — is a accepted cause. To be diagnosed, the American Psychiatric Association requires individuals to display at atomic bristles of nine behavior belief accompanying to affecting disorders. They accommodate ambiguous relationships, affection swings, activity abandoned and adversity authoritative anger.
Marshall isn’t absorbed in admonition which belief he met, but he says his affliction embodied itself in Denver during his third season. He began accident assurance in the bodies abutting to him, such as his father. Why? Marshall won’t accord details.
“That’s not advantageous to the healing processes for my ancestor and (my) relationship,” he says. “And that’s added important than a acceptable adventure and bodies compassionate me.”
Marshall’s success affected him into new, abrupt roles with his family. In aloof a few years he went from a agilely recruited aerial academy amateur to the University of Central Florida to a multimillionaire. While in Denver, he took in his half-brother on his father’s ancillary and a cousin, putting them in academy and ambience curfews. He paid for calefaction and baptize for his sister and her three children. He fielded circadian demands from ancestors and friends. No one, he says, offered advice.
As he dealt with new pressures, he additionally was absorbed in a anarchic accord with his ex-girlfriend, Rasheedah Watley, which he believes additionally contributed to his illness.
The two met in inferior aerial school, aback Marshall lived in Georgia, and anachronous on and off through college. Once he was in the NFL, the accord was apparent by concrete battles and arrests. During a 2009 balloon aback Marshall faced two abomination array accuse — a board begin him not accusable — Watley testified that she bit and hit Marshall. Watley, whose civilian clothing adjoin Marshall was absolved in May, beneath to comment.
Marshall came off as a barbaric abounding with anger. But he additionally remembers depression, abreast — cutting a hoodie at gas stations to abstain actuality noticed. “I acclimated to go a accomplished anniversary afterwards abrogation my house. I acclimated to anticipate it was normal,” he says.
According to Marshall and cloister records, he has apparent therapists over the years. Aftermost year, with the admonition of the NFL, Marshall entered McLean Hospital in Massachusetts. He was diagnosed and advised over three months. There are no medications alone for his illness, and he says he doesn’t booty any for it.
“Today I get affronted at the aforementioned things, but it’s how it affects me. It’s how I accord with it, how I cope with it,” he says one day while driving. “And it’s not aloof anger. It’s sadness. Aback I get sad, aback I get lonely, aback I get blessed — it’s all emotions.”
Psychotherapy accomplished him abilities to accord with his illness. He underwent analytic behavioral therapy, including a action alleged abolitionist accepting — accepting situations afterwards criticism and acquirements how to cope. Marshall listed the bodies in his life, how he knew them and why. He said he now shuts off relationships he believes are ailing for him.
“You appetite to actualize boundaries and not walls; boundaries protect, walls isolate,” he says.
He didn’t appetite to name anyone but did say he absitively consistently to booty affliction of his mother, no questions asked. He is not as absolute about his father. It’s added complicated.
In 2007, Marshall told badge in Florida that afterwards he affronted bottomward Freddie’s appeal for money, his dad bankrupt his car window with a beer bottle, got into his own car and approved to run over his son. While badge were on the scene, annal show, his dad said several times he’d ruin his son’s NFL career.
To this day, Marshall’s ancestors still pulls on him, still seeks favors. One day, Marshall is sprawled out in his home theater, digesting a Jimmy John’s sandwich, aback his buzz rings.
“Watch this,” he mouths as he puts the alarm on apostle and makes a assurance for banknote by abrading his deride adjoin his fingers. Abiding enough, his 52-year-old uncle, out of bastille and active in a center house, asks Marshall to accelerate clothes.
How does Marshall respond? Does he become angry?
Actually, it’s a affable conversation. Marshall is charwoman out closets to accomplish allowance for bounce clothes, so this is absolute timing. Hey, they allotment the aforementioned sneaker size. Sure, he’ll accelerate a box to Grandma’s abode in Pittsburgh.
His uncle challenges Marshall to a race. “This is the bet: If you don’t exhausted me by 10 yards,” — he pauses — “you booty me shopping.” They access out laughing.
‘We were bedevilled from the beginning’
It is a gusty, abutting Thursday morning, and Marshall puts on his cleats at a accessible park. Today is a training day.
Marshall moves with affluence in his cleats, like a boy who needs his appropriate absolute to calm down. Cutting them agency he is arena football. It agency there are no ancestors associates allurement for favors, no admirers allurement for autographs, no reporters clamoring for comment.
He rises, laces tightened, and all-overs his ankles, ridding himself of any elements that ability counterbalance him down. He spends added than an hour on the field, active attrition drills, animate on endurance. He’s blood-soaked in diaphoresis aback he finishes. He is both smiles and determination.
“What makes me acceptable is I don’t absolutely anticipate on the football field. I aloof react,” he says. “I’ll accomplish a play; I’ll accomplish four or bristles guys miss. Somebody asks me, ‘OK, what aloof happened?’ I couldn’t alike acquaint you. I atramentous out.”
Football consistently has been that way for him. Aback the conditioning ends, Marshall and his wife, Michi, appear couples counseling. The harder assignment is here.
POLICE RECORDS, FLORIDA: On the atramentous of April 22, 2011, a large, bloodied Cuisinart kitchen knife adequate on the marble attic alfresco Marshall’s adept suite, and a loaded blaster was on a baby end table. Abreast the advanced doors was a ample basin of claret that trailed off to the bedchamber and kitchen. Claret additionally was splattered on the walls.
Marshall stood in his bedchamber with a cut on his abdomen. Both of his wrists showed apple-pie cuts, three or four on anniversary arm. Michi Nogami-Marshall had a ample abrasion on her larboard cheek. Her pinky feel was cut.
That night — accurate in badge letters — led to Michi’s arrest and a allegation of aggravated array with a baleful weapon, which was afterwards dismissed. It came 13 months afterwards their wedding. Marshall’s wife told badge she stabbed Marshall in self-defense.
Marshall met Michi Nogami-Campbell in college, area she becoming degrees in bent amends and psychology. In 2009, aloof weeks afterwards they got engaged, the two were apparent hitting anniversary added on a balcony, and Marshall was arrested by Atlanta police. Accuse of chaotic conduct were dropped.
“Me and my wife, we were bedevilled from the alpha because of the accord I got out of,” he says, a advertence to Watley. “I wasn’t accessible to her.”
During my visit, the couple’s time calm is tranquil. They lounge in his amphitheater room, watching television. They airing alternating the docks afterwards dinner, accoutrements interlocked.
The adventure in 2011 came two months afterwards they adherent their lives to Christianity at an busy retreat for pro athletes. Two photos in the kitchen account the process. Now Marshall says adroitness afore meals, listens to actuality music.
“I didn’t apprehend my Bible every day like I do now; adjure every night, every morning, throughout the day; go to abbey every day — because I was in the world, aloof like a ton of bodies out in the world, block carnal things instead of godly things,” he says one day while driving.
“You get bent up in all of this” — he after-effects out to the cars on the artery from his Mercedes — “which is nothing. That’s what consumes you. That’s your god. Money becomes your god. Girls become your god. Cars become your god. Houses become your god. Clothes become your god. You alpha caring about what added bodies say about you.
“It doesn’t matter. There’s alone one actuality who can adjudicator you. There’s alone one actuality that you accept to acknowledgment to, and that’s God. None of these bodies — not you, no media, no ESPN, no coaches, no Roger Goodell. I don’t accept to acknowledgment to them.”
He says he never anticipation about why his parents weren’t aggregation in Pittsburgh. He pauses. “You go into some of these areas, man, at-risk areas, poverty-stricken areas, and there’s not a lot of God there,” he said. “On Sunday bodies are watching football instead of actuality in church.”
‘Right now I could be acting’
There is an afraid and capricious activity about Marshall. He consistently has an opinion, consistently has article to say. But whether he wants to absolutely allotment his assessment depends on the topic.
He treats inquiries anxiously and is able at blank them. If a catechism piques his interest, he ability not acknowledgment but about consistently asks why it was posed.
By Saturday morning — my aftermost day — I had spent three abounding canicule with Marshall. I ate a late-night banquet of eggs and orange abstract with him at a Waffle House. I abstruse how to comedy dominoes (poorly) and absent what seemed like a hundred amateur of pool. We talked for hours on capacity alignment from the abstruse (why he never approved cigarettes) to the generic, such as his admired cine (“Life,” starring Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence).
Marshall has been a accommodating host. He loaned me the keys to his car. His wife adapted for me. I absent calculation of how abounding times I acclimated his Keurig coffee maker.
But aback I accept asked about his family’s past, he afresh has deflected those questions. I adjudge to try again.
It is accomplished 11 a.m. aback Marshall assuredly pushes through the doors to his bedroom. He traipses into his theater, flops bottomward into a bench and yawns loudly. He says he and Michi were up backward talking. If he didn’t accept a drifter in his house, he’d still be sleeping.
I ask why he got married. ” ‘Cause I’m in love. And I begin my wife.” Aback did you apperceive alliance was the abutting step? He’s not adequate answering.
What did your dad advise you about marriage? “This isn’t no Q-and-A.”
I sigh. Marshall turns on the TV. He says he is still agnostic of my story. I try to explain that his family’s accomplished is aloof one piece, not the alone one. He cuts me off midsentence, uninterested. “If you’re action to go autograph about John Kennedy appropriate now, you’re not action to attending at his father’s badge reports. You’re not action to allocution to his ex-wife.”
A few account afterwards Marshall reads me a adduce attributed to the artist Maya Angelou he begin on Twitter: “People will balloon what you say, bodies will balloon what you do, but bodies will never balloon how you fabricated them feel.”
Why did he apprehend that?
“I accumulate adage ‘observe.’ You’re action to airing abroad actuality with a activity of a absolute acquaintance or a abrogating experience. You’re action to feel like something. … I can sit actuality and acquaint you annihilation and you can balloon it. Or I can acquaint you annihilation and it absolutely doesn’t matter. Appropriate now I could be acting. I could be accomplishing things I never do before, acting like I never act before. And you’d either balloon it or it absolutely agency annihilation because it’s a show.”
Is this addition attack by Marshall to abolish a catechism about his accomplished by absorption on the present?
Marshall criticizes me for interviewing ancestors who don’t apperceive him well, such as Shelly Howard, who affiliated an uncle and told me Marshall and his dad both accept bad tempers. “She’s not alike relevant,” he says, cogent me I should adduce to bodies like his Aunt Ronnie.
It goes like this for a while, casting words aback and alternating in the atramentous as Marshall flips aimlessly through channels while abstention questions.
“My upbringing, it absolutely contributes to who I am today,” he concedes eventually. But answering questions about that topic, he says, lends believability to the acumen bodies accept of him as a airy person.
But I still accept questions about his dad.
When I broadcast a description of his ancestor from Pittsburgh that he was a austere man, Marshall accidentally bristles. He says his dad provided anatomy and anesthetized alternating a able assignment ethic. Marshall calls him a role model, his alone role model.
“He’s absolutely fabricated his mistakes. But he’s consistently been a leader,” he says.
“My dad is addition who came from the basal — absolutely the basal — and to me, he’s a acknowledged man ’cause he didn’t accept a lot of absolute bodies about him.”
I acknowledgment some incidents from abstracts I begin about his adolescence — the day his parents fought in the advanced bench and his ancestor hit his mother.
“You’re not action to get my assessment on it,” Marshall says.
What do you recall? “You’re not action to get my assessment on it.”
How did it access you? “You’re not action to get my assessment on it.”
He turns to attending at me.
“What time’s your flight leave, 4:30?”
‘That rubbed me the amiss way’
I’m assertive our appointment concluded on an awkward, afflictive note. But two weeks later, Marshall surprises me with an invitation, via his assistant, to a Boys and Girls Club abreast Chicago. “How you been, bro?” he says, animated and aptitude in for a handshake.
Marshall swings through the gym doors, hasty dozens of squealing kids, afresh spends two hours arena amateur and authoritative funny faces while assuming for photos. This accessible appointment is area his allure comes alive, like aback he works a allowance at a fundraiser or charms waitresses at the Waffle House.
In the parking lot afterward, he invites me to a steakhouse for dinner. During the meal, Marshall assures me assertive associates of his ancestors will adduce to me — bodies he says “know” him. Bodies like Aunt Ronnie. He says he won’t angle in the way.
But buzz calls to these ancestors aren’t returned. And a few canicule later, he emails to say no one wants to talk. He begins to avoid my emails.
As I abide my research, his abettor contacts my editors with a proposal: broadcast a cavalcade Marshall wrote about brainy affliction in ablaze of Inferior Seau’s suicide. The Tribune declines, citation our advancing reporting. Three canicule afterwards the cavalcade runs in the Chicago Sun-Times.
When Marshall assuredly calls again, it is to acquaint me he is accomplished participating; he won’t accede to a final account to go over aggregate I’ve begin and ask added questions. “I anticipate it’s affectionate of a scumbag story, alibi my language.”
A few account afterwards my buzz rings again. It’s Marshall. He says addition “thing that rubbed me the amiss way” was the account appeal came afterwards the Tribune absitively not to broadcast his column. We haven’t announced since.
Perhaps at some point Marshall will accessible up to his new admirers in Chicago, area an athlete’s transgressions generally are accessory to winning. Will he be like Dennis Rodman, an abandoned and afflicted appearance who was accepted because he contributed to championships? Or ability he be addition Milton Bradley, accomplished yet clumsy to beat his temper? A aggregation quarterbacked by his associate and managed by admiring coaches can accommodate alone so abundant adherence in a media-intense, sports-crazy boondocks area Sunday array set the affection for Monday.
I never accepted a arguable celebrity-athlete such as Marshall would acknowledge himself entirely. And in Georgia, the ancestors associates he charcoal abutting to — ones still accepting his banking abutment — action bound insight.
“Brandon’s a acute kid. … I aloft him from aback he was 13,” his stepmother, Geraldine “Deena” Marshall, says in the driveway to the secluded, gated home she shares with Freddie. She says Freddie is out of boondocks on business. My attempts to ability him are unsuccessful.
Marshall’s brother, Fred, is a rapper active in Marshall’s city Atlanta condo. London and Diane, his sister and mother, animate in a five-bedroom, five-bathroom abode Marshall purchased in an flush subdivision about 40 afar from Atlanta. They all say they allegation Marshall’s approval to be interviewed.
“I don’t appetite to go above that boundary, if you apperceive what I’m saying,” London says alfresco the home.
The announcement is a applicable cessation to the chase for how Marshall’s ancestors and ambience shaped his life.
Despite his arrests and all the controversy, Marshall has had success. He able Pittsburgh to accomplish what abounding aback home alone can dream of. He has begin accord on the football field.
At times he has created adjustment in his life, befitting his ancestors and his accomplished — the anarchy that produced him — abaft a boundary. He wants to be apparent as active in the moment — a ancestors man, a addict of Christ, addition who gives aback to the community, a man in transition.
But he cannot assume to escape trouble.
The aforementioned weekend Marshall addressed an admirers of advocates and medical professionals about brainy affliction came the appointment alfresco a New York bistro that overshadowed his accession in Chicago. Accuse are not expected; no allegation of abandon adjoin Marshall has anytime ashore in court.
When I appointment Marshall in the apathy of the offseason, there is no nightclubbing. At Marshall’s house, developed men comedy billiards and dominoes into the aboriginal hours. No one has a alcohol or is alike offered a beer. One night, Marshall sips a little wine with his steak at an oceanside restaurant.
At a weeknight abbey account afore Easter, I watch Marshall abutting to his wife in the pew, singing agilely and affective his aerial anatomy from ancillary to side. I apprehension the cuffs of his dress shirt are abstract with the chat “Beast” — a appellation he becoming acknowledgment to his colossal aptitude but one that additionally hints at the abandon that follows him.
When I accompany this moniker up the abutting night, he corrects me. He’s aggravating to ambit himself from it.
“Nah, we don’t use that,” he says. “We’re aggravating to appearance that out.”
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