Two players on the Missouri Western football team: junior corner back Mike Jordan and redshirt sophomore linebacker Darrian Bass, grew up less than eight miles outside of Ferguson, where they blossomed into high school standouts on the gridiron.
"Everybody knows everybody. You can know one person and know the whole community just by knowing that one person," said Jordan. "Seeing all this rioting and all these protests going on in your own community, it's almost unimaginable."
Nothing has been normal back home in northern St. Louis County since Brown's death. Jordan, who grew up in Hazelwood, now lives in Ferguson with his brother, Reggie, who is in training camp with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and was still in town the day of the shooting.
"I got boat loads of texts asking me and making sure I was safe. Luckily I got a chance to get out of town in the midst of the situation."
Like Jordan, Bass has a sibling in the National Football League. Darrian's brother, David, was featured in Sports Illustrated over the weekend as he talked about his experiences growing up in University City near St. Louis. The second-year Chicago Bears defensive end told several stories about times he felt profiled by authorities because of his ethnicity. One involved his cousin getting turned away from a club at Ballpark Village in St. Louis, an incident that both Bass brothers were present for and claim was racially-driven.
"I've been immune to it, I should say. I've been experiencing situations like this all my life," Bass said. "I just felt powerless. I went home and told my mom that I had never felt like I didn't have any power."
Both he and Jordan say they're thankful to have a football season to keep them away from the situation, but neither can speak to what happened between Brown and Darren Wilson. Bass did say there is an uneasiness knowing a friend, family member, or even he could have been in the same situation.
"(Michael) Brown, we could've been a son to his parents just as he was to his own parents. It's sad that it actually took such a tremendous loss for the world to see what's been going on."
While St. Louis County has gone under a global microscope since Brown's death, Jordan sees more than just violence from the protests.
"People don't understand how together some communities are in St. Louis," he said. "I don't think the rioting is right, but standing together for the protests, that is a good sign of what St. Louis is about."
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