USC’s Brynn Cameron, 21, is now back in the game since giving birth to her son, Cole Cameron Leinart, 13 months ago. It’s been a hard road for the basketball star, who discovered she was expecting Arizona Cardinals quarterback and USC alum Matt Leinart‘s baby soon after they split up.
In new interviews, Brynn discusses how the discovery of her pregnancy tested her spirit, her regret at remarks made in the past, sharing nursing advice with Lisa Leslie, and being a young mom. Matt, 24, comments as well.
Click below for the interview highlights.
On discovering that she was pregnant at 19-years-old, soon after her break-up with Matt:
The couple split in March. By June, Brynn felt something was up. She took a pregnancy test, but didn’t believe the positive result. After a doctor confirmed for her that she and Matt had conceived in early February, Brynn told him and they both cried.
I thought, ‘Why me?’ I thought, ‘You’ve just ruined your life.’ I thought my life was over, school was over, basketball was over. I just thought I was done.
I kept saying, ‘This is horrible’ and ‘This is the worst thing thatever happened. You’re supposed to graduate fromcollege and then get married and then start a family.’ I thought thebaby and I were done for.
On revealing that she was expecting:
Having been raised in a Mormon family, Brynn was nervous about their reaction to her pregnancy. She needn’t have worried. Her mother quit her job to watch Cole while Brynn has class, practice, and games, one of her brothers left BYU for USC to live with Brynn and help with Cole, and her dad tells her to take it day-by-day.
It wasn’t ideal. I grew up in the Mormon church, and familyis so important. I was scared to tell my parents, I was nervous about alot of things. But I knew I was having my baby. You know things happento other people. You just never think it will happen to you.
There’s single moms out there with like five kids that don’t even havemoms and dads and brothers and sisters around and I have all that. They keep me going.
Brynn’s other concern was her basketball coach, Mark Trakh, but again, it wasn’t a problem. He says,
She told me she was going to have a baby and that she’d come back. When I was coaching at Brea High School I had a player have achild. She came back, played her senior year and the whole communityrallied around her, so I’ve been through this before. It’s about life being not ideal. Things happen.
However, Coach Trakh is disappointed that it’s Brynn’s status as mom to Matt Leinart’s son that has gotten more media attention than her skill at the game.
It’s a darn shame in the Los Angeles market, with a lot ofpositive things going on, that’s what women’s basketball has to do toget some publicity. She has a messageto send. She has matured tremendously and can be a greatexample.
Brynn is extremely thankful for the understanding nature of her coach.
Coach is part of the reason I wanted to come back. Hewas so supportive and I heard when he told the team he just said,’We’re going to have a little one at practice next year.’
Since this has all come out, I’ve heard from a lot of girls, moms [and] parents who went through the same thing. It’s nice for me to talk to girls. Being a single mom, you don’t grow up thinking that’s how it will be.
Although it’s kind of been hard that it’s so public, I want girls tosee that stuff happens. Sometimes you get pregnant. Youcan still do what you want to do, be a mom and be a great mom, and goto school and finish what you wanted to.
On her pregnancy:
One thing Brynn didn’t think about was basketball.
I went to my brother’s footballgames. I hung out with my sister. I just kind of enjoyedgetting big and getting ready to be a mom.
On her labor:
Brynn stopped working out during her pregnancy — and it showed during her labor, she laughs now. In the early stages of labor, Matt took her for a two-block walk on Santa Monica Blvd, and she was sweating and hurting so badly that Matt asked her if she was having a heart attack!
On co-parenting with Matt:
Brynn and Matt regret events that happened over the summer, when Brynn responded to remarks Matt made publicly about being a father. The two then settled on a child-support and custody arrangement in August. Both parents now have put any bad blood of the past behind them, and prefer instead to discuss their son — as well as sports. Of the summer, a now-mortified Brynn says,
I wish it hadn’t happened. Some things got blown out of proportion. Matt’s still Cole’s dad. And I want Cole to think the world of his dad.
He’s in a tough position. Football-wise, injury-wise [Matt recently broke his collarbone], it’sa lot to deal with for him too. It’s been rough for us, but aftereverything that’s been said we’ve worked it out. We will be closeforever. We have different lives now, but we have Cole. We’ve got tomake it work.
We’re close and cordial, and we’re friends now. [Occasionally we do something together with Cole.] I enjoy it because Cole is seeing that we do get along and althoughwe’re not together and won’t be together, we’re still friends and we’reon the same page with Cole.
There is no point in talking about something like that. It’s in the past.
That she put her career on hold, that was tough. But I told her thatwhen you’re healthy enough to go back and do something you love, youshould do it. She’s a super-competitive person. So I just told her,’You’re there, in school, on a full ride, so enjoy your last couple ofyears. Who knows what happens after college?’
Not giving up on school, on basketball, that shows what type of personBrynn is. It’s very, very hard to do, and when Colegrows up he’ll know his mom stuck it out and raised him.
It’s hard to juggle everything that she’s juggling, but we’re helpingeach other out tremendously and I’m just happy that she chose to go back.
Brynn is reluctant to say that she’s back in top basketball form, but Matt has no problem tooting her horn for her.
Since I’ve known her, Brynn was always kind of nonchalant aboutbasketball. She’d score like 30 points and have ninethree-pointers and then act like, ‘Who cares?’ But she’s a very good offensive player and she shoots better thananybody I’ve ever met.
I used to make fun of her for hating playingdefense, but I’ll say this: She’s probably the best shooter in thecountry.
Brynn is aware of negative comments about her character, having been called everything from a baby mama to a gold digger. Although hearing commentary on what once was a serious relationship does sting, Brynn frankly admits,
I’m sure I’d have said the same thing if a girl got pregnant by the golden boy.
However, the nasty words have ‘made me less judgmental,’ Brynn says, and reveals that she is now hyper-aware of how judgmental people can be of Matt and is somewhat protective. After Matt broke his collarbone in November, Brynn – herself having suffered hip injuries that required surgery — reached out to her ex. Of the message she left for him, Matt says,
It was sweet. And understanding.
At a recent game against the US National Team, Brynn made eye contact with WNBA star Lisa Leslie, who welcomed her own child, daughter Lauren Jolie, now 6 months, in June. During a break in the action, Lisa came over, locked arms with Brynn, asked, ‘Are you still breastfeeding?’ and initiated a chat about it. Laughs Brynn,
We’re probably the only two basketball players in America in themiddle of th
at right now. I told Lisa I was trying to stop!
At 13-months, Cole seems to have his father’s left-handedness as well as a love for football — Brynn says the football is the first ball he goes for even though he has multiple choices in his crib.
We always joke, ‘Oh, he’s probably going to play the piano and dance.’ He’s obsessed with balls. I’m sure he’ll play football,baseball and basketball. I’m pushing baseball. He’s going to be aleft-handed pitcher.
I call him my little tank. He’s a big kid. He’s not sloppy fat, but he’s thick. [smiles] He’s the sweetest little boy ever. I know everyone thinks their kidis perfect, but he’s just so happy. He makes everyone in the roomsmile.
Despite once feeling that having a baby so young would ruin her life, Brynn now says that Cole has taught her perspective.
I know it happens every day, but having a baby really is a miracle.
Life is a lot harder, it’s a lot more tiring and a lot more work, but it’ll beso worth it in the long run. I have motivation now.I’m doing this for Cole. I want to make him proud.
Thanks to CBB reader Anya.