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Brynn Cameron on basketball, breastfeeding, and her baby boy

12/14/2007 at 03:30 PM ET

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.

Matt adds,

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.

On rumors:

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.

On nursing:

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!

On Cole:

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.

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Source: LA Times; SI; SI

Thanks to CBB reader Anya.

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Kait on

It’s awesome that they were able to move forward from the hurtful comments and situations to focus on their son together.

Pam on

They impress me for a lot of reasons. They seem to have a good relationship now after what was definitely a tough time over the summer, they’re making it work for their son, she managed to come back to basketball while nursing for over a year (and I only made it 10 months even though I was a 38 year-old SAHM, not a 21-year old bball star!)…wow. Really happy for them for finding their own way to be a family.

Some of my extended family is LDS and I imagine that would be very hard for them to deal with if one of my nieces was in that situation, so I really commend her family on how they reacted to the news and have helped Brynn and Matt, as I know it can be very difficult in that religious structure. Kudos all around.

And that is one cute baby. ;)

Eileen on

It’s really great to hear a celebrity ex-couple admit to making a mistake! Co-parenting is hard enough, let alone adding media scrutiny to it. It’s refreshing to hear parents acting like adults, putting their child’s best interest first, setting aside differences and being committed to a healthy, happy environment for their son!

Natasha on

“…and I want Cole to think the world of his dad.” I really admire her for that. Out of all the crap they’ve been through that’s really nice to hear.

Sarah on

Brynn is a wonderful mom, she has a lot to be proud of. Congrats to both her and Matt for setting such a good example. Cole is so cute, I just want to pinch his cheeks!

Anonymous on

Bravo to Brynn and Matt! They are a great example of how people can still be parents to their child even though they’re no longer together as a couple (yeah I know there were issues earlier in the year but they’ve gotten past them thankfully). I can think of a lot of number of couples, both celebrity and non-celebrity, that should follow their example on how to handle things!

Mary-Helen on

Does anyone else ever get the vibe that these two may end up back together somewhere down the road? Their words about the other have so much love and admiration in them and they only split because of his infatuation with the Hollywood lifestyle. Maybe I’m reading too much into it but I could see a reunion for this pair.

Anonymous on

Such a positive article! I love her name. She was actually the inspiration for our baby girl’s name–hubby and I heard her name on the news (sports, of course :) and thought, hey that works for us!

Sadie on

I have to admit I was judgmental when I heard about the pregnancy, but it wasn’t aimed towards her. For both her and Bridget Moynahan, I felt sympathy for them and I looked at the guys negatively (mostly for their quick rebound hookups when their ex was pregnant). Hopefully Bridget can forgive Tom the way Brynn forgave Matt.

Hillary on

I am so glad that these two are getting along now! Hearing them fight over the summer was heartbreaking for Cole. He is one adorable kid!

Lola on

I’m glad they put the bad feelings behind them.

FC on

I love how supportive her family has been, and how they helped her with Cole so she could go back to school without having to worry about how she was going to cope. Strong family support there. And, it’s great to know she and Matt have mended fences. It really does seem that after everything, they care a great deal about the other and only want the best for each other and their son, who, btw, is absolutely precious. Love that “What happened?” look on his face. :)

Cindy on

I have so much respect for both Brynn & Matt. They exhibit great maturity and seem to understand that it is all about Cole, now. This little guy will grow up feeling secure and confident and loved…what a wonderful gift these parents are giving their son. And a cutie Cole is. Adorable.

Kayla on

I think it’s great that they’ve managed to work out their issues, and seem to be in a better place.

To Sadie-Tom doesn’t need forgiveness from Bridget because he didn’t do anything wrong. Tom and Bridget were already broken up. And Matt didn’t need forgiveness from Brynn. They were no longer in a relationship.

What Tom and Matt chose to do with the aspect of their romantic lives is none of anyone’s business especially not their ex-girfriends regardless of whether they are pregnant or not.

These relationships ended and life goes on for everybody.

As long as they pay their child support and are involved in their children’s lives I have no problem with how they live their lives.

lauren on

Her brother that left BYU to go to USC was darling. I played softball at BYU and he is your All American dream, nice and a total babe. Thats cute that he transfered to help her with Cole. She has a very supportive family. Matt seems like he loves being a father too. I am glad that things are working out so well for them now :)

terri on

I think these two are acting so admirably. A lot of people with decades of age on them can’t act as honorably for their children. I think Cole is lucky to have such great parents. Brynn’s family sound like really great, supportive people. They went the mile for her. It must be so special to have that kind of closeness with your family.

Sadie, I understand exactly what you were saying. I’m glad that all parties were able to put angry feelings aside for the baby.

Joy on

reading this story made me tear up because I remember seeing Matt in interviews back when they were just dating, so I TOTALLY understand what she means about the ‘golden boy’ treatment. She was a freshman at 17 and he was in his last year of college taking ballroom classes. The press’ attitude was that of he could do whatever he wanted, & he had that attitude that most young athletes DO have.

So when I read that story, I realize how hard it must have been for them both to grow up, but Especially her. As the woman, YOUR life is the one is put on hold for 9 months. She’s also an athlete, but she has to think about breast feeding in the middle of a pass. She’s the one that got skewered and is looked at as the irresponsible party. No one ever questioned why he, as a senior, was dating a freshman BUT now shes the “gold digger”.
Life is going to be harder for her if she gets drafted by a team. Look at the comments Sherri Shepard is getting when it was revealed she & her son don’t live together while she works.
Its just a tougher road as the woman, and I really wish them both the best. Hopefully they lets Jesus in show them the way in life, because that does make it easier.

Sarah on

That baby is so cute!

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