Football fans will recognize Brandin Cooks, the NFL wide receiver who’s been playing this season with the New England Patriots.
But while he seems like a tough guy on the field…
…in real life, he’s a real mama’s boy:
Because while Cooks has had a ton of success with his football career, he’s never forgotten where he can from or who he is—the son of a single mom, who raised him the best she could, despite everything.
Before the start of the season, Cooks was asked where his work ethic came from—and he knew immediately:
“[My work ethic] came from my mom, raising three boys on her own, working early mornings, multiple jobs,” he told CBS Boston of his mother, Andrea, who worked in a warehouse after his father died of a heart attack.
“She didn’t sign up for that,” he explained. “I signed up for football.”
“So if she can do it, I can do it too.”
But beyond just thanking her, he’s also treated her to plenty of gifts now that he’s made it big—including a brand-new Mercedes in 2014:
“I talk to him every night. He texts me every morning,” Andrea Cooks told ESPN. “He’s been doing that since college.”
“He always used to tell me, ‘Mamma, I’m going to take care of you,’ even when he was little.”
But beyond thanking his mother, Cooks wanted to help other single mothers—and made an incredible offer.
With the Patriots now contending for the Super Bowl, fans everywhere are fighting to get a hold on playoff tickets.
But on Saturday, hours before their game against the Titans, Cooks suddenly announced that two free tickets were up for grabs—for a lucky single mother.
— Brandin Cooks (@brandincooks) January 13, 2018
That same afternoon, 12-year-old Alyssa MacNeil of Hopedale, Massachusetts, was over at a friend’s house. A big Patriots fan whose favorite player was Tom Brady, she was planning to watch the game later that night.
“I was going to watch it at home,” she told WBZ-TV.
But suddenly, Alyssa got an emergency call from home.
“My mom FaceTimed me and said ‘I need you to come home,'” she recalled.
“‘We just got tickets to the Patriots game.'”
“I was speechless,” Alyssa told WBZ-TV.
Alyssa’s mother has raised her on her own, and also happens to be a huge Pats fan—so when Cooks made his announcement on Twitter, she was the first person many people thought of for the honor.
“Everyone was nominating my mom to get the tickets and [Cooks] followed my mom and talked to her on Twitter and asked her if she wants the tickets and she said yes,” Alyssa explained.
— ☘️suz marie☘️ (@BostonKhaleesi) January 13, 2018
And just like that, Alyssa and her mother were off to the big game.
The Pats would win that game, 35–14, so the mother and daughter got to see a victory in their home stadium, all thanks to the wide receiver’s pay-it-forward spirit.
“I like how there are kind people in the world that are helping other people,” Alyssa told WBZ-TV.
But beyond the coolness of seeing her favorite team up close, it was a special moment for the two—Alyssa could see how much the surprise meant to her mother. Like Cooks, she too knew the struggles single parents face.
“I’ve never seen her this happy for a while because we’ve been struggling.”
Cooks’ ticket donation was a gracious shout-out to single parents everywhere, and it seems like they went to just the right people.
And at the very least, Cooks has overtaken Tom Brady as Alyssa’s favorite player, which is no small accomplishment.
“I think he’s first now,” Alyssa joked.