Nwosu honors former Owl Brigance with jersey
MAY 09, 2013 3:43p ET
Last weekend in Baltimore, he found another way to honor Brigance, whose battle with ALS has helped bring attention to the disease, by presenting his Armed Forces Bowl jersey to him.
Nwosu and Brian Raines (class of '09), another former Owls linebacker who drew comparisons to Brigance during his playing career, flew to Baltimore along with Donald Bowers ('91), who was a teammate of Brigance's at Rice, to attend the 7th Annual Fiesta 5K for ALS Research on May 4.
Brigance and his wife, Chandra, served as co-chairs for the event, which drew more than 2,300 participants and raised more than $410,000 for the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins. The Center is the only international research organization dedicated solely to ALS research.
Raines presented a check for funds raised during the recent Football Lettermen's Golf Tournament for the Brigance Brigade, so Nwosu knew he was not coming to Baltimore emptyhanded.
"Donald Bowers came up with the idea in March to attend the event, and I was excited about the chance to go and support O.J.," Nwosu said. "After we made sure everything was cleared through the NCAA, I couldn't wait for the weekend to get here."
Nwosu had the jersey he wore in the Armed Forces Bowl dry cleaned and brought it to Baltimore, where he presented it to Brigance.
"You could see his face light up when I showed it to him and then said it was his," Nwosu recalled. "It was a very special moment for me to do that for him. He means a lot to me and to this university."
Brigance "looked at it for a second and saw how small they are and asked me if it really fit me," Nwosu recalled. "It was a funny moment."
Raines said "the best part of the weekend was spending time with O.J. telling jokes with everyone. "
Bowers, Nwosu and Raines were not the only Owls on hand. They were joined by football lettermen Courtney Cravin ('92) and Will Hollas ('90), tennis letterwinner Liz Sulzberger Hollas ('91), as well as George Hall ('81) and Kelsie McVea McQuietor ('91).
"We enjoyed a fantastic weekend at the Fiesta 5K," Brigance said. "I was so blessed to be surrounded by my Rice family. I had a great time connecting with old friends and meeting the next generation of Owls. Cameron is a phenomenal young man and I was touched by his jersey presentation."
Brigance has received countless accolades and honors, including a pair of Super Bowl rings and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Rice. Through his own efforts with the Brigance Brigade and his support of the research at Robert Packard Center for ALS, he has led the charge to support fellow ALS patients and research on the disease.
During their run to the Super Bowl title this past season, the Baltimore Ravens repeatedly referenced Brigance as a source of inspiration. He won a Super Bowl ring as a player with Baltimore and then joined the front office after retiring. He remains the Ravens' Senior Director of Player Development and head coach John Harbaugh called Brigance "a shining light in our building".
Brigance's impact on the Rice program will remain intact as well as Nwosu takes the field again this fall wearing No. 57 in his honor.
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