The two little boys lived in a mobile home with their two other siblings, their mom and their grandparents, barely scraping by in a Southern California town that enjoys its share of affluence.
On their first day of school, one a second-grader and the other in fourth grade, they carried generic backpacks. For that, they were razzed by the other kids. That night, the boys stayed up late with their mom, who used puffy paint to create Nike and Reebok logos on the backpacks.
The next day, they felt like a million bucks.
The second-grader was Gary Brown, who could not have gone to sleep in that mobile home imagining that someday he would have a million bucks. More than that, actually. After the Giants took Brown with the 24th pick of the 2010 draft, they signed him for $1.3 million.
As he prepares for his third full season as a professional, Brown wants this to be the year he lives out another fantasy and reaches the major leagues.
"I hope I can force the issue," he said as he sat at a table inside the Giants' clubhouse at Scottsdale Stadium on Monday and told his family's story to a reporter.
The setting is the eastern suburbs of Los Angeles, a region that produces many pro ballplayers. The weather affords them year-round access to the diamond, and the families who live in so many comfortable neighborhoods have the income to send their children to sports camps and scouting showcases.
"A lot of people think that because I'm from Southern California that I was a rich kid who had it all," Brown said. "That wasn't the case at all. I was just telling this story the other day: I was paying for stuff with rolls of pennies. You think, 'Yeah, it's money,' but when you're in school, you get made fun of for that."


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