Booker T. Brown — a philanthropist, football legend, pastor and former Santa Barbara resident — passed away Monday in Mojave. He was 69.
“The world lost a saint when he died,” Tim Tremblay, a close friend and former teammate of Mr. Brown, told the News-Press Wednesday.
“What an example he was to kids and all of us to be always giving of himself,” said Mr. Tremblay, a Santa Barbara businessman. “He wanted to spread the word and help people. He was a great teammate helping kids and other people improve their game.”
Mr. Brown, who played football at Santa Barbara City College and USC before his NFL career, was born Sept. 25, 1952.
“He has a very impressive resume for his football career,” said Mr. Tremblay.
Not only was Mr. Brown a player in the NFL, but he was drafted into Major League Baseball as well.
He is also known for hitting the longest home run in the history of Santa Barbara High School.
Mr. Brown was recruited to almost every university in the country, but chose to attend USC, Mr. Tremblay said.
Mr. Brown, an offensive guard, went on to play for the San Diego Chargers for two seasons before he signed with the Houston Oilers in 1975.
Mr. Brown was named MVP of the Western States Conference in 1971.
He was also named Junior College All American, All California for Junior College and the USC-Kodak All American. The Chargers won the national championship during his time at USC. And he was inducted in 2019 into the Santa Barbara City College Hall of Fame.
“His career was cut short by a tumor, which turned out to be benign,” Mr. Tremblay said.
After his athletic career ended, he was down in Los Angeles walking by a church. After engaging in conversation with the kids in the courtyard, the pastor asked him to help clean up the courtyard. The pastor eventually invited him on staff, and Mr. Brown’s duties include leading Bible studies for the children.
He later moved to Mojave where he became the pastor of a church and started the Booker T. Brown Foundation, which helps underprivileged kids and families.
Mr. Tremblay recalled how Mr. Brown helped Mojave.
“One of the big events was every Thanksgiving, he put on a fabulous feast for the underprivileged and fundraised for gifts during Christmas. He was always there to counsel people. He was always there and ready to help.
“He was a gentle giant,” Mr. Tremblay recalled. “He was always helpful, You would see him off the field, and he would ask how things were going and what he could do to help. I think that carried over into him being a pastor and caring about people. He was kind. On the field, he was the complete opposite, you didn’t want to be on the wrong side of him. He was a very special player.
“He had a great sense of humor. He had the biggest smile. You would always look forward to seeing him because you would smile, just seeing his smile,” said Mr. Tremblay.
“Booker is a humble man. He would want his legacy to be his foundation, trying to make a difference for people that need it. That will be his legacy, to be a legacy of giving.”