Park Hill football star recalls violence, death of brother

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Every kickoff represents a new beginning for high school football players. One member of Park Hill High School's unbeaten team found a new start, leaving a dangerous environment behind.

If Park Hill Linebacker Jamaal Brazil seems anxious to live, there's a good reason for it.

The warmth of Kansas City north represents a new beginning for the Trojans senior, who left behind a world of violence. Five years ago, he and five family members fled a troubled neighborhood in crime-ridden Flint, Michigan.

But on October 3, 2012, a sobering phone call reminded Brazil's family of the violence. Jamaal's 23-year old brother, Darrius Robinson, had been shot and killed on Flint's notorious southside.

"My father said, 'your brother was shot.' Brazil said. " I was just taken. I couldn't say anything. He said, 'He died in the hospital." I couldn't do anything but cry.

Jamaal says Darrius was caught up in the neighborhood's crime as a dealer of heroin and pills.

"I'm going to be completely honest, my brother was in the streets," Brazil said. "He was a dealer, and really well-known, but even at that, that's not the person he really was."

"I loved him. No matter what he did, he can do no wrong in my eyes. I wish he would have made better decisions."

That's when Jamaal's mother sought a safer environment for her family, relocating her family to the Kansas City area, where Brazil has blossomed into a potential college football player.

"He's made leaps and bounds with us as a person in the past year," Josh Hood, second year Trojans Coach, said. "He did a lot of work during the offseason to build his character and become a different person."

"We've been proud of what he's done as a person."

Jamaal says strong faith can help people survive terrible times.

"At first, I didn't want to leave my family," Brazil said. "It was truly a blessing in disguise. It's something I thank God for the opportunity, and I'm thankful that my mom moved out here."

Crime statistics from the FBI still list Flint as the nation's second most violent city, trailing only Camden, New Jersey.

Brazil has gotten scholarship attention from several division one schools -- including Northern Illinois.

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