Watch the LSU Tigers this season, and you’ll notice a hole in their secondary. There’s been a missing piece there since September 16, and sadly, will be for the foreseeable future. It’s the place where Greg Brooks Jr. should be battling alongside his Tiger teammates.
Instead, the LSU safety faces an altogether different battle as he fights a rare form of cancer. As Brooks begins his personal conquest against cancer, The Tiger Athletic Foundation launched “The Greg Brooks Victory Fund,” which has raised funds into six digits to help fuel his recovery.
Greg Brooks Jr. Continues Cancer Battle as Victory Fund Fuels Recovery Battle
Saturday Sept. 16, dawned like any other college football weekend for LSU and their legion of fans ahead of their road game with Mississippi State. Except one name was missing from the Tigers starting lineup. Brooks’ omission from the depth chart was the first public sign that something was wrong, later to be revealed as the discovery of a rare form of cancer.
Following the 41-14 win without the captain of their secondary, head coach Brian Kelly explained that Brooks had been absent due to a “medical emergency,” which later in the week was revealed to have been an emergency surgery to remove what was described as a “large brain tumor” in a family statement.
On Oct. 4, LSU Athletics, in cooperation with the Brooks family and Our Lady of the Lake Health — a nonprofit, Catholic healthcare ministry in Baton Rouge — announced that the LSU safety had been diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a rare form of brain cancer most commonly associated with children.
In such moments, football becomes a secondary concern.
A team captain and a high-level player with multiple interceptions in several seasons across his LSU and Arkansas career, Brooks is a young man engaged in a battle far more substantial than any he has faced on the football field.
“Greg’s speech and ability to communicate has been impacted,” Catherine O’Neal, the Chief Medical Officer at Our Lady of the Lake Health, explained via the LSU media release. “Although he is responsive and working daily with physical therapy, he will face month of intensive rehabilitation.”
The words delivered may seem stark but were followed by hope for Brooks’ long-term future.
“The surgery was successful in removing the tumor,” O’Neal continued, “and there is no evidence that the cancer has spread.”
“As he begins rehab in the coming weeks, Greg’s family and care team will determine a treatment plan in collaboration with nationally recognized specialists in this specific form of brain cancer. He has a long journey ahead and will need the full support of our community behind him as he faces this battle.”
The outpouring of support from not just the LSU and Baton Rouge community but from the college football community as a whole has been substantial. The Tigers faced Brooks’ former Arkansas the week after his first absence from the field, with the Razorbacks wearing stickers honoring a Louisiana native who spent three years as a fan favorite in Fayetteville.
Meanwhile, Missouri did the same when the Tigers came to town.
At the same time, Brooks’ teammates have rallied around their captain with outward displays of support for the LSU safety. Tigers’ quarterback Jayden Daniels wore a “Pray for Greg Brooks Jr.” t-shirt while the “#PrayFor3” hashtag populated social media in the days and weeks following the news of his ongoing battle.
However, the most significant contribution to Brooks’ battle against cancer has come from the formation of “The Greg Brooks Jr. Victory Fund.”
MORE: What is the Greg Brooks Victory Fund? How You Can Support LSU’s Captain
The fund will help offset the costs related to the LSU safety’s care — including treatment, medicine, therapy, and travel. LSU President William F. Tate IV acknowledged the importance of the foundation in helping Brooks and his family.
“Victories are rarely achieved alone, which is why we’re calling on fans from around the world to rally behind The Greg Brooks Victory Fund. Your support will ensure that Greg and his family have everything they need as they embark on their journey to healing and recovery.”
The support has come in spades. According to head coach Brian Kelly, via a mid-October report from ESPN, the fund has raised “well over six figures” since its formulation.
Brooks is continuing his battle and recovery from surgery at the St. Jude’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, surrounded by the support of teammates, LSU supporters, and college football fans around the world.
Most importantly, he’s surrounded by his family, whose statement gives a valuable insight into the character of a young man.
On the football field, he’s a warrior who has been the battling heart of the Arkansas and LSU secondary. But, facing the biggest battle of his life, he has the off-field character to more than challenge the most challenging of circumstances.
“He fights like a Tiger each day and continues to make incremental improvements.”
“We have a long road ahead and are appreciative of the support from our LSU family and Tiger fans. Greg has fans around the world and our phones have been ringing off the hook for the last several weeks with words of encouragement and support. Greg is a warrior! Please continue to keep No. 3, and our entire family, in your prayers.”