There is a very special woman in Jimmy Graham’s life but it’s not who you might expect. The heart wrenching story behind Saint’s tight end Jimmy Graham and his adoptive mother Becky Vinson is one of struggle, compassion, and love. As a young boy Jimmy Graham was bounced from relative to relative by his biological mother who was unable to care for him financially. Eventually he settled in with his ex-step father, who demanded 98 dollars a month in child support. When his mother refused to pay, Jimmy was left with social services.
Eventually he returned to live with his mother, but at age 11 she turned him over to a home for orphans and delinquents. He was the youngest child at the home and he was abused by the older boys with equally troubling pasts. In an exposé on ESPN Jimmy recalls crying himself to sleep at night and wishing he could be in control of his own fate. After a 9 month stint at the home Jimmy finally convinced his mother to take him back, but this time it meant living with his inattentive mother and her new boyfriend who continually abused Jimmy.
Jimmy’s life had been so difficult up to this point; he was due for a miracle. That miracle came in the form of Becky Vinson, a single mom who got to know Jimmy at a prayer group that offered a free meal. When Jimmy revealed his story to the group and explained his fear of being sent back to the home, Becky knew she had to help. She invited Jimmy to live with and her daughter, but unlike the wealthy Touhy family of The Blindside fame who famously adopted Michael Oher, Vinson was struggling to get by. This didn’t stop Becky from taking better care of Jimmy than he had ever been before. Jimmy was happy and part of a family for the first time.
In high school with Vinson on his side Jimmy improved his grades, became a basketball phenom, and earned a basketball scholarship to The University of Miami. His senior year he joined the football team and his pure athleticism landed him a prime position in the NFL. Jimmy contributes his success to the opportunity and love that Vinson provided. She helped him believe in himself and she says that she is a better person because he is her son. Jimmy’s story may be one in a million but he argues that no matter how bad things get, if you keep fighting you can do anything! As the Saints make their way to the playoffs this week you can bet Graham will have his number one fan Becky Vinson cheering him on!