Bulldogs backrower Fa’amanu Brown has heartbreakingly revealed that looking after his dying mum during her last moments is his greatest achievement in life.
Brown, who moved from Christchurch to Sydney at just 17 to chase a contract in the NRL, has battled injuries and mental health concerns throughout a rollercoaster career that almost broke him in more ways than one.
The 28-year-old spent seasons on the sidelines battling a foot injury that left his chances of running again uncertain and his playing career in freefall.
A product of a tough upbringing, Brown struggled when he moved to Australia and dealt with depression, a loss of identity, gambling problems and even almost attempted suicide.
While playing with Cronulla at age 19, Brown says he felt isolated and disconnected from everyone.
Bulldogs backrower Fa’amanu Brown pictured with his mother who passed away in 2020
Brown, who moved from Christchurch to Sydney to play in the NRL, has battled injuries and mental health concerns that almost broke him in more ways than one
‘I went and signed papers at Cronulla Leagues Club … and I was, like, ‘Man, I’m done. I want to go home or else I’m going to commit suicide’,’ he told ABC News.
And one night when the pressure became unbearable, Brown swam out into the ocean as far he could.
‘God, if you’re going to take me, take me now because, man, I’m done,’ he recalled thinking at the time.
‘But, for some reason, I floated on my back, swimming backwards back to the shore … I remember just crying,’ he said.
Brown spoke to his mother afterwards and she encouraged him to be strong.
The young footy star started earning big bucks with the Sharks, but without proper guidance Brown soon developed a gambling problem.
‘I ended up becoming broke. I went through a gambling phase. There was a point where I had to ask [the club to be paid] in an advance,’ he admits.
It was his mother’s cancer diagnosis that finally made him pull himself together and became the defining moment of his life.
Brown struggled when he moved to Australia to play footy and dealt with depression, a loss of identity, gambling problems and even almost attempted suicide
Brown (pictured with his partner) started earning a large wage with the Sharks, but without proper guidance the youngster soon developed a gambling problem
‘There was a time where Mum was going to be put into a rest home, where people look after them until they pass, or we had an option where me and my brothers look after our mum,’ he explained.
Brown thought a care home would be the best idea, but his brothers talked him out of it.
‘But my brothers know the Samoan way more than me … My older brothers said: ‘Trust me, you’ll understand once you start looking after her.’
‘This beats my NRL debut, making whatever money … I don’t think getting married will top this.’
In a social media post from 2020, the footy star detailed how he was feeling while looking after his dying mother.
Brown says his mother’s cancer diagnosis pulled him together and became the defining moment of his life
Brown thought about putting his mum in a care facility for her final days, but was glad he spent the time with her instead
‘What I’ve learnt through my relationship with mum is there’s no point in holding grudges towards others,’ he wrote.
‘Life is too short to darken your heart. Every time you say goodbye to your loved ones that could be the last time you will hear or see them. Now she is sick, I regret so many things.
‘I should’ve would’ve could’ve but i know it’s made me who i am today. Realise before it’s too late.
‘Everyday embrace your loved ones. Tell them you love them. Say it sincerely. Record memories. Be present. Say sorry. Talk it out. Continue to love & forgive even when it hurts.’