Hopefully by now you know at least a little about the back story to DaeSean Hamilton’s life and family.
Because it’s the kind of story that will make you very proud this guy is in Denver (and make you wonder if you have allergies).
As Bleacher Report’s Matt Hayes wrote on the Nittany Lion wideout last December in an outstanding feature, DaeSean has always had his priorities straight.
“He was also the child thrust into the caregiver role for his older brother, Darius, who has autism. Who also helped care for his mother while she had breast cancer. Who then never veered from what was important and what had to be done to care for his family.”
As the hero to his big brother, leaving home to go to Penn State was a big deal to Darius and their parents. But DaeSean assured his family his responsibility to his brother would never wane.
And five years later - after finishing his degree at Penn State and starting a master’s degree during his last year of football - DaeSean’s promise is the same.
“Darius never has to worry about me letting go,” DaeSean said. “He’s my brother. I love him. I have always believed this, and it’s something my parents have said over and over: God will never give you something you can’t handle.”
At age six, DaeSean realized his brother needed extra help, and he never hesitated to be the help Darius needed - which wasn’t doing things for him but helping his brother do them for himself.
The boys’ mother Madgeline told Bleacher Report of the time she realized what DaeSean could do for his brother that others couldn’t.
“It wasn’t long after DaeSean started helping that I was trying to get Darius out of the house one day to go somewhere, and I said, ‘Come here, Darius, let me tie your shoes,’” Madgeline said. “DaeSean ran up to me and screamed, ‘No, Mom, let him do it himself. I taught him how to do it.’ Sure enough, Darius tied his own shoes.”
Even now, the Hamiltons rely on DaeSean to help their 24-year-old Darius do something that is seemingly outside of his skillset. But it’s second nature to DaeSean to help his big brother.
Happy Birthday to this grown man. Been taking care of you since we were in elementary school but it feels like you've taught me more lessons than I could imagine growing up. Autism has never been able to hold you back and keep you from being the best big brother I could ever be blessed with. Love you and btw you're still moms favorite @eastshy5 #autismawareness #bool
When Madgeline discovered years ago that she had breast cancer, DaeSean truly became his brother’s keeper - waking him every morning, getting him ready for school, getting him to the bus on time, picking him up from school and caring for him afterward while mom went to chemotherapy and dad worked to pay the bills.
DaeSean looked out so much for his brother that his parents had to remind him to think about himself.
His dad Johnie told DaeSean to write down his goals. Hayes writes:
They changed annually as he got older and began to include being All-Conference and All-Academic, be the best at his position, be a great teammate, earn a college scholarship. But a few were the same every January.
Be the best brother and son I can be.
Help care for Darius.
Make Darius part of my life.
Making Darius part of his life became crucial when DaeSean ended up going to a different high school because of his football talent. But childhood friends Billy Bolinsky and Brad Caudill made sure to look after Darius at their school.
“I’ve never told anyone that story, and as I hear myself say it now, wow, how great is it that they would do that?” DaeSean told Hayes.
Bill O’Brien recruited DaeSean in 2012, a year the program suffered huge scholarship cuts due to the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Of his wideout recruit, O’Brien had said a “coach can win a lot of games with guys like DaeSean Hamilton.”
Under James Franklin, Penn State went 11-2 and 11-3 the last two seasons respectively, finishing in the Top 10 in the country. Running back Saquon Barkley - the second pick overall in the draft - was a huge reason for that. So were players like DaeSean, who had football talent as well as strong work ethic, something Barkley noted when his teammate was picked up by the Broncos.
Saquon Barkley on the @Broncos pick:— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) April 28, 2018
“That guy comes to work every single day, and I mean every single day. He doesn’t take a day off, he’s one of the last guys off the field and catches at least 100 to 200 balls a day. His routine is a great example that hard work pays off.” https://t.co/S4rX3wfcx0
But, of course, that was something his family and Pop Warner teammates way back when always knew.
“He could throw the ball a country mile,” said Caudill about their coach. “He’d throw it, we’d all run, and DaeSean would get there first every time. Finally, he says, ‘If DaeSean gets this again, we’re doing five more. If someone else does, we’ll stop.’ DaeSean was the fastest player on the team by far. But that next throw, someone else got it. DaeSean clearly let someone else get it. That’s who he is.”
And it’s definitely something Penn State coach James Franklin knew, telling Hayes that DaeSean is “everything you could want from a young man” before correcting himself and adding, “No, he’s everything you’d want in a son.”