When the New Orleans Saints signed sore-armed Drew Brees in 2006, eyebrows around the league were raised. No other team believed that the former Pro Bowl quarterback would return to the field as good as new. Oh, ye of little faith. Drew proved to be a savior for the Saints, lifting the team to its first NFC title game—and then its first NFL championship. In the process, he became a symbol for a broken city’s comeback. By playing smart football, Drew inspired millions of fans around the NFL—and elevated himself to status of the Big Easy's most popular passer since Archie Manning. This is his story

As an infant, Drew had a large birthmark on his right cheek. His parents, Mina and Chip, discussed removing but decided against having an procedure performed.

Football was an integral part of the Brees family culture. Drew’s grandfather, Ray Akins, was a legendary high school coach in the Lone Star State. His mother’s brother, Marty Akins, was the starting quarterback for the University of Texas during the Earl Campbell era. Both of those jobs sounded pretty good to Drew. So while other children were playing with Hot Wheels, he was dreaming about a career as a football player and coach.

Drew excelled at every sport he tried, but he was particularly good at football, baseball and basketball. Drew enrolled at Westlake High School in 1993. As any fan of the "Friday Night Lights" franchise knows, high school football in Texas is serious business, played by kids with serious talent. A number of players in the Chaps' league went on to star in college and the NFL, including Ladainian Tomlinson. Drew would later play in the same backfield as Tomlinson during an All-Star Game.

Drew won the starting quarterback job for Westlake as a junior in 1995. He was not your prototypical Texas quarterback. Drew stood six feet tall with his helmet on and was so skinny that fans feared he would break in half if tackled too hard. But, oh, that arm. When Drew unleashed a pass, it...

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