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Humble And Hungry: The Brian Flores Story
Brian Flores was made in Brooklyn.
By Travis Wingfield Mar 13, 2020

"There's joy in hard work."

That was Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores' message to the team following a Week 17 victory in Gillette Stadium. The same venue that served as Flores' home for the first 15 years of his coaching career provided the backdrop for Miami's upset of a division rival in the season finale.

Flores knows a thing or two about the underdog role. Growing up in the neighborhood of Brownsville in Brooklyn, New York, Flores attributes his success to the people and the environment that helped shape the man he has become.

"You've [got to] be tough to grow up here," Flores said in a homecoming trip to his childhood apartment. "If 'street life' was in the dictionary, it would probably be a picture of Brownsville."

It was his mother, Maria Flores, who prepared him to overcome the challenges presented not just by Brownsville, but by life in general. The traits imparted on Flores by his mother not only helped him get out of Brownsville, but drove him to reach the peak of the coaching profession.

"My mom was incredible," Flores said. "She was extremely tough and stern, but we always knew that she loved us. There was never a doubt."

Tough. Smart. Disciplined. Tune into any Flores presser and those are the phrases the coach will use to describe his ideal player. Flores' wife, Jenny, echoes the values instilled by Maria in which Flores relied on to get to where he is today.

"Brian's mom was probably the best coach he ever had," Jenny said. "I think he learned to be a coach from her. She was strict. Brian knew that [his mom] wanted what was best for him. I think that's what he's taken with him into this role here in Miami, being a head coach with his players."

Brian Flores' football-playing days at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn.
Brian Flores' football-playing days at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn.

Flores was introduced to football by his uncle, Darrel. Per mom's orders, one beautiful fall day, the Flores boys were inside watching television.

"I knew of a football field and thought this would be perfect for them," Uncle Darrel said. "Brian couldn't wait to get over there. He grabs the pads, puts them on, but he thought they didn't fit right, and of course he had them on backwards."

That was the moment Brian's path became clear, according to Jenny Flores. "Uncle Darrel changed Brian's life by introducing him to football," Jenny said.

Jenny was right. He was offered a scholarship to an exclusive school in Brooklyn, Poly Prep Country Day School. Flores' humility served him well at a young age, and he still carries that mindset today.

"I'm very lucky," Flores said. "I know for a fact there's a lot of guys who, athletically, had as much or more than I did, for sure. They just didn't have the right people around them."

His coach at Poly Prep, Dino Mangiero, knew he was dealing with a special person from the moment they met.

"[When] I first met him he was 13 years old," Mangiero said. "You could just see it. Bright-eyed, special, willing to work extra hard. He was like a sponge. You could tell he was a serious guy. He was going to be successful, I just knew it. For the past 25 years I've been telling everybody, 'this guy's [going to] be a head coach someday.'"

Flores' story belongs on the silver screen. The inspiration is palpable, and it resonates among those that know him best.

"I'm so proud of Brian," Jenny Flores said. "I got a front row seat to see this phenomenal story. I'm most proud of seeing him overcome the challenges he's had. I'm proud that he doesn't complain about what he's gone through. He just keeps pushing through it.

Jenny and Brian Flores
Jenny and Brian Flores

Incredible as it may be, Flores knows his story isn't finished being written. By his own account, his impact on others will ultimately determine his success.

"It doesn't really matter where you're from or what your situation is," Flores said. "If you do what you're passionate about and you have support, it goes so far. I don't think people really understand how impactful they are. Keep working, keep striving, keep trying to be the best version of yourself. And then pay it forward. It's only a success story if we help other people have success."

Whether he wants to admit it or not, Flores has already impacted the lives of so many grateful people. People like Coach Mangiero.

"I'm very proud, like my own son" Mangiero said, fighting back tears. "It's like growing a rose in concrete. How did this beautiful thing bloom in this jungle? Just, impossible. Incredible. It's the American dream for a guy to come from where he came from. He worked very hard. He sacrificed and was very humble about the whole thing. Humble and hungry is a good way to describe him."

Just as he did in his childhood, Flores persevered through his rookie season en route to five wins in the Dolphins' final nine games. Flores will be the first to admit that the job is far from complete on this remarkable journey.

Always humble, always hungry for more. That's Brian Flores.

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