One football coach went above and beyond his duties by opening his heart and home to a homeless quarterback. Sam Greiner was coaching his first team when he met Braheam Murphy, a teenager with a lot of potential. He would come to figure out Braheam’s secret – he was homeless – and create a mentorship that no one saw coming.
In no time at all, Braheam was welcomed into his home. Not as a guest but as one of the family. The aspiring footballer’s second chance at life gave him the nurturing and love that he needed to flourish both in football and as a young man. Take a look at the extraordinary story of a coach with a big heart and his extremely talented quarterback.
Sam Was Just Starting Out
Sam Greiner was a health and physical education instructor at Harding University High School when he first met Braheam. He had aspirations to become a football coach, and it wouldn’t be long until he got the chance. But he would have his work cut out for him.
In his personal life, Sam was a happily married man to his wife Connie and a devoted father to two adorable little girls. He loved being a dad to Charli Belles and Journi and enthusing them with a love for sports. As far as he was concerned, life couldn’t get any better.
Faith and a Wonderful Family
One of the most important aspects of Sam’s life was his unwavering faith in God. He and Connie were devout Christians, with a strong belief that anything is possible if your heart is in the right place.
The Greiners regularly attended church and prayed, and were an incredibly close family. This is why it was even more amazing to know that they would open up their family circle for one kid who’d had a rough life. Not even they saw it coming.
His Work Cut Out For Him
It wasn’t long before Sam was offered the chance to coach the high school football team. But he wasn’t in an enviable position. Harding University High School’s football team was in a really bad situation, having been beaten down for 20 years.
As Sam put it, they were “barely winning a game” and had become “the laughing stock of Charlotte.” But Sam’s faith gave him the strength to take on the challenge. “It takes faith to walk out of the stands and sign up on a sheet of paper [saying] I’m gonna play football for you.” Little did he know how much his decision would come to change his life.
The Smallest Kid He’d Ever Seen
Braheam entered Sam’s life when he would turn up for Sam’s strength and conditioning classes in the first period. And he definitely left Sam with an impression: “First time I met Brahin he was a freshman. The smallest kid I probably saw in my life. I mean he probably weighed 90 pounds.”
Sam remembered how he would always turn up late. “He would have someone drive him to school every day because he couldn’t get to school, there wasn’t a bus,” Sam recalls. Braheam was pretty guarded about the real reason why he struggled to make it in on time. “I didn’t know that he was homeless.”
A Homeless Student
“He asked me to take him to work a few times after practice,” Sam recalls. Braheam would ask: “Hey, can you drop me off to this place? Can you drop me off there?” But Braheam never asked to be dropped off in the same place. “Eventually I just said Braheam, where do you live? And he never wanted to tell me.”
Braheam eventually trusted Sam and told him the truth about his living situation. He was staying at the homes of relatives and friends, bouncing between them. But he was without a permanent residence, or a mother and father to look after him. Because he had no stability, he was having to miss half of the school day.
A Difficult Childhood
The truth was, Braheam grew up under very challenging circumstances. “I went through a lot of tough things in life. I lost my mum at the age of five.” But Braheam’s strength of character got him through devastating circumstances. “I got through it, I was strong. My sisters and brothers, we all had each other’s back.”
Braheam was the youngest in his family and the most in need of a nurturing family. Still, he managed how he could, and tried hard to excel in school and sports. But it was nearly impossible for him to even attend all of his classes.
Ineligible To Join the Team
Because Braheam was absent for half of the school day, his grades were failing. And because he didn’t have a high enough GPA score, he wasn’t eligible to play in the high school football team. “Braheam is too intelligent not to be eligible for football, he was super-intelligent,” Sam later asserted.
Braheam already showed major talent on the football field, and everyone at the school agreed that they really needed a player like him. But the simple matter of his low grades could not be overlooked. Sam stated: “He was not able to play, he was gonna star for me and I needed him, he was intelligent, [but] he was ineligible.”
Braheam had every intention of excelling in his true passion, football. But when he found out from higher-ups that he couldn’t be a part of the team, he was completely heartbroken. “When he told me that I didn’t show any emotion,” Braheam recalled from the moment.
But he admitted that once he was alone, he “cried for two days straight.” After everything that had gone wrong for him in his life, he clung to his dreams of playing for a team. And he had the talent to back it up. But he wasn’t able to reach his full potential.
Connie Agrees To Dinner
Coach Sam was devastated to learn about Braheam’s real living situation. He could see Braheam was underfed and stressed, and couldn’t not invite him over to his family home for dinner. It’s not common practice for a physical education teacher to offer, but Braheam felt like he could trust Sam.
Sam spoke to Connie about having one of his students over for dinner. He explained to her Braheam’s unfortunate situation and simply thought he could do with a tasty meal in good company. They would sit down, the Greiner family and Braheam, and just tuck into some good food.
Braheam and Connie Had a Connection
“My wife, she said bring him home,” Sam recalled. “I just said to him, hey man how about you just come have dinner? You wanna come have dinner at the house? He said yeh I’ll come have dinner.” That evening, Sam couldn’t help but noticed how quickly Braheam devoured his meal.
“It was just funny to see him…he never ate so much in his life,” Sam relayed. But most notable of all was how well Connie and Braheam were getting on. There was no awkwardness and they were able to have an open and meaningful conversation. “They had a connection,” explains Sam.
For those who know Connie, it’s not a surprise that she opened up her home and her family to Braheam. She had spent most of her working life as a sales assistant in upmarket jewelry shops like Sterling Jewelers. But she eventually worked her way up to becoming a Pandora store manager.
These days, she’s the manager at a store branch of the cosmetics brand Origins in Charlotte, South Carolina. But she’s also studying full-time and bringing home A’s. On top of all that, she’s a full-time mom and full-time wife. But despite her dedication to furthering herself academically and professionally, her family has always come first.
He’s Been With Them Ever Since
After Braheam came over for dinner, he never left the Greiner household. Sam revealed: “He never left. That was the first day he was there and he never left.” They told Braheam that he was welcome to stay with them as long as they. And before long, he would naturally become one of Sam and Connie’s kids.
Braheam got to experience family life like never before – both the amazing times and the mundane. Sam and Connie gave him his own bedroom, and he would help out with house chores. He even babysat for the two girls on occasion, which helped strengthen their bond. And yes, playing with Barbie dolls was involved.
‘Heam Makes It Onto the Team
Now that Braheam had the guidance and stability of a family, his happiness was at an all-time high. Both in school and in sports, Braheam started to really show his potential. “I just felt like when there was someone caring for me, it made me want to do better in school, and life,” Murphy later admitted.
When he was homeless, Braheam was failing to pass his classes. But after he’d been with the Greiner’s, he’d pushed his grades all the way up to a near 4.0 GPA. And because of that, he was able to rejoin the school’s football. Needless to say, it would be the best decision the team had made in over 60 years.
Braheam’s dad Sam just happened to be the coach of the Harding University High School football team. But that didn’t give Braheam any secret benefits. In fact, he chose to play in a position he liked less because, as Sam put it, “he’s this great leader.”
The way Sam sees it, Braheam made a sacrifice at his own expense: “Braheam played defensive back, he sacrificed himself for us too, he said ill play quarterback.” It was what the team needed, and Braheam put the team’s needs above his own desires.
Playing Against One of the Best Teams
In a Church testimony in 2020, coach Sam would come to tell of the wonderful thing that Braheam gave to the “laughing stock” of Charlotte. “An amazing situation happened,” he started telling the congregation, fighting back the tears. “I’ll never forget, we were playing against West Meck High School (West Mecklenburg Hawks‘ Varsity Football team) whos ranked in the top sweet 16…”
Sam continued: “They said we can’t go to the playoffs.” But Braheam thought differently and knew he was possible of something great. “[Braheam] takes his shot, he tells me no were gonna punch in the endzone, and I’m like no, get in the huddle!” Sam didn’t have the confidence that his son did.
His Initiative Wins Them the Game
Braheam didn’t back down. “He’s like no, we’re gonna punch in the endzone.” There was hardly any time left to come up with another strategy or talk things out. “We didn’t have much time, they [West Meck] went back and scored right away.” Things were looking bad for Harding, and that’s what most people expected.
“So less than 40 seconds left, and this guy [Braheam] marches down the field and I don’t say a word,” Sam recalls. He must have trusted Braheam was on to something. “He throws a touchdown pass and we win the game. And we get to go to the first playoffs we’ve ever been to in a long time at Harding.” For the first time in over 60 years, Harding’s football team could hold their heads up high.
Tears of Happiness
As Sam gave his testimony in church, Braheam was standing right beside him on stage. He tried hard to fight back the tears at the thought of what much they accomplished, and how much it means to him. But it was what Sam had to say about him that made it impossible to keep the flood gates from flowing.
In front of hundreds of churchgoers, Sam asserted: “He’s more than you can imagine. You think that I’m doing something for him? He’s done more to my life than I’ve done for him. He’s a very special human being.” Sam’s touching words prove just how highly he thinks of the hard-working young man.
Braheam’s Biological Family
After Braheam won the game for Harding University High School, he celebrated with those who were most important to him – his family. But it wasn’t just Sam, Connie, and his little sisters who were there to celebrate his victory, as his biological father had been watching with the Greiner’s, too.
Pictured above, Braheam’s biological father Dino and his half-sister Danielle pose proudly alongside Braheam and the Greiner’s. But it probably makes you question why Braheam didn’t live with his biological father after his mother passed away.
Braheam’s Dad’s Situation
Braheam lost his mother at only five years of age due to a devastating brain aneurysm. He and his older sister, Dominique, were the ones left behind. His father Dino was around, but he had remarried someone else and they quickly fell pregnant with a daughter, Danielle.
Danielle had been born with cerebral palsy and needed extra attention. On top of that, the home that Dino, his wife, and Danielle were living in was too small to comfortably accommodate him and Dominique. They tried it for a while, but Braheam admits that they didn’t all blend well.
Going by What Their Heart Tells Them
Not long after their momentous win, Sam and Braheam were off to a “Night of Worship” at their church. “The church asked me to bring as many guys as I can,” Sam recalled. And boy did he deliver. He ended up bringing over 35 kids from Harding High School that he coaches to the evening event.
Sam continued: “The amazing thing about it is they do an alter call. Every single one of those 35 kids went down to the alter.” As a devoted Christian, he realized at that moment the impact his own beliefs had been having on the kids. He finished by saying, “In life, you don’t know what this world tells you. But we don’t listen to this world, we always go by what our heart tells us to do.”
Graduating With Flying Colors
In 2018, Braheam graduated with flying colors. Dad Sam and mom Connie were there to celebrate his amazing achievement. He managed to go from failing his classes to graduating with a near 4.0 GPA – it truly was a tremendous turnaround.
It’s never been more clear that anyone can great things if they’re given the care and nurturing that they need. Sam posted this photo on his Instagram alongside a caption: “Our boy [Braheam] graduated today. So proud of him. Just the beginning. Greatness coming.” Clearly, Sam is his biggest believer.
Looking for the Next Big Challenge
What was next for Braheam? Well, he applied to join the United States Military Academy Preparatory School for a year and got accepted. And Sam and Connie were over the moon for him. Sam wrote a message to all his Instagram followers letting them know of this next big change in Braheam’s life.
“So proud of our son [Braheam.] This is him at the army navy game,” Sam boasted, before adding, “Next year [we] will be there with him watching him play.” He admitted that it wasn’t easy for his kid, saying that it was “definitely difficult, but he knows the purpose of a better tomorrow.”
Missing Having His Boy Around
Braheam was working hard at the Military Academy and wasn’t seeing his family as much, much to their disappointment. But they knew it was for the best. On top of that, one of his daughters was starting school and would be busier than usual. But Sam couldn’t help but tell his social media followers how he was going to miss having ‘Heam around.
Sam wrote: “Gonna be a tough day for me. My little girl Charli starts Kindergarten this week, and today marks the first day I drove to school alone without my boy [Braheam] in three years.” Despite his optimistic attitude, Sam couldn’t help but feel a little nostalgic. “Keep everybody safe, Lord.”
Sam and Connie’s Handful
On Instagram, you can really see how Braheam fits into the family. He’s just like any other young man coming home on some weekends to kick back on the couch. Here he is with his youngest sister Journi, but he causes trouble with either of his sisters. One weekend, the whole family went out for burgers at lunch, but the kids were up to their usual antics.
“Great day at Burger 21. Love my family, but these two can be a handful,” Sam said on Instagram, referencing Braheam and Charli. Braheam joked about how he might have to beat someone up, only for Sam to come back with, “Just make sure you protect your hand, kick somebody or something.” They really are an adorable father-son duo.
Anything To Make Them All Happy
Even though Braheam was living far away at the Military Academy, he always came home for holidays and birthdays. Here the family are outside their home on Christmas Day. It wouldn’t be a holiday without all the family there to celebrate.
And Braheam even joins in on the festive fun by coordinating outfits with everyone else. On Braheam’s personal Instagram, he posted Christmas day photos along with the caption: “Blessed to be able to spend time with family. I’ll do anything to make them all happy.”
Hard Work Pays Off
Braheam completed his year at the United States Military Academy Preparatory School, circa 2018-2019. He did so well there that he graduated from the West Point academy to Army West Point Football – all on a scholarship. Of course, all the family came out to celebrate.
Sam took to social media to let everyone know how proud he is of Braheam. He wrote: “Great times watching our son graduate from prep into West Point… So proud of you, the most resilient warrior leader ever.” With such a supportive family, Braheam was jumping from one achievement to the next.
Big Brother Braheam
The amazing thing about Braheam is that he’s gotten so close to his adopted sisters. You’d be forgiven for thinking they might not have so much in common considering their big age difference. For many siblings, a large age-gap can greatly affect their closeness. But that’s not the case for Braheam, Charli, or Journi.
As well as babysitting, playing with Barbies, or even letting them apply makeup to his face, Braheam got into the habit of reading to the girls. He really has been the best big brother to them and fits in perfectly with their family. As Sam and Connie say, he is their “bonus kid.”
Reading To the Kids
Braheam was so good at reading stories to the girls, he even arranged to read a story at Charli’s elementary school. Pictured below, we can see Braheam at the front of the class holding the pictures up to show the children.
Of course, Sam was incredibly proud. He posted this photo on his Instagram with the caption: “Loved watching Braheam read to Bain Elementary. Charli his little sister was smiling the whole time looking up to her big brother.” It doesn’t get cuter than that.
Built on a Rock
Braheam was able to thrive due to the solid rock that the Greiner family’s built upon. Sam and Connie have a wonderful relationship – you need only take a look at their socials to see how adoring they are of each other. “I never thought I could love someone so much,” Sam once captioned a photo of Connie.
Whether it’s an anniversary, a date night, or even just a Monday, Sam finds a way to shower Connie with praise and gratitude for everything that she does. On Valentines Day, Sam posted a cute picture of the couple with the caption: “My wife Connie and I had the best time last night for Valentines. I grow to love her more and more every day. Not sure how that’s possible but I do.”