His Brilliant Career

Brett Perriman's gridiron days with the Dolphins may be over, but his commitment to the community where he grew up is just beginning

Indeed, Perriman is remarkably detached when speaking about Garyn's murder. "At the time, I felt feelings of revenge," he explains. "I am helping the police department to bring these people to justice. But vengeance now is out of my heart. The feeling in my heart is one of forgiveness. Even of them. They took my brother, [but] it was his time to go."

As it is for most people who grow up Miami's inner city, death has been a regular visitor in Perriman's life. This year, it is Garyn. Before, it was Randy. Most devastating was the loss of Perriman's mother Charlene in 1989. This is the one death that Perriman has trouble shaking off.

He remembers how she used to call him every single day when he was at UM. "The phone would ring and I'd tell everyone that was my mama. And they'd laugh and say, 'How do you know?' And I just knew. I'd pick up the phone and sure enough it was her."

Charlene was 46 years old when she died of heart failure. "I was playing for New Orleans," Perriman recalls. "I had to fly down to the hospital to see her. She was on life support, and I was the one who had to make the decision on whether or not to turn off the machine. My father was there but they knew they couldn't trust him, that I was the only one who could be counted on to make a rational decision. The doctor told me that she could live on life support but she would be a vegetable for the rest of her life. I know my mama, and I know that she never wanted to live like that, so I told them to turn off the machine.

"Afterwards, the pain inside me just built up tremendously. I went back to New Orleans, but there was just this huge pressure, this enormous pressure building up in my chest. It kept building and building. My blood pressure went up too, getting so high that the team physician told me that I was killing myself. He said that I had to let her go or I was going to go myself. But the pressure just kept building. Then one day it all just came out. I started crying and crying. I cried for five hours at least. I was on the ground, rolling around, just crying. When I finally stopped, the pressure was gone. My blood pressure dropped back to normal. I could go on. I still miss her. I miss her every day." The anguish in Perriman's voice is obvious.

He speeds toward Liberty City, where he will drop Sears off. Mother's Day is three days away. Perriman plans to throw a party in Charlene's honor. He's reserved a picnic pavilion at Amelia Earhart Park and intends to fill it with food, drinks, family, and his closest friends. Together they will celebrate the woman who was the touchstone in almost all of their lives. According to Barbara Miller, Garyn was as close to his mother as Brett was. Every Valentine's Day, every birthday, and every Mother's Day the two of them would drive out to the cemetery to visit Charlene's grave. This year, Brett Perriman will make the trip alone.

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