Ravens rookies J.K. Dobbins, Ben Bredeson and Geno Stone are grateful every Mother's Day. The support and wisdom they received from their mothers played a major role in helping them reach the NFL. In recognition of Mother's Day, three moms of Ravens rookies were asked to share thoughts about their son.
Mya Grounds, J.K. Dobbins' mother
Watching the man Dobbins has become makes Grounds immensely proud. She was only 18 years only when Dobbins was born. She had planned to attend college. She considered having an abortion, before deciding to become a devoted single parent to the Ravens' second-round draft pick.
"At the time I was only thinking about myself," Grounds said. "I was young, I wanted to play college basketball. I was in denial. I call J.K. my miracle baby."
Dobbins and Grounds have been there for each other throughout his life. She never married Dobbins' father, Lawrence Dobbins, who was also a star running back at La Grange (Tx.) High School, the same school where J.K. would star.
Lawrence Dobbins didn't make it to the NFL. He died of a stroke in prison at age 33, when J.K. was 15 years old. He never got to see J.K. become one of the best running backs in the country or become Baltimore's second round draft pick.
According to Grounds, Lawrence lost direction after he quit the football team at Blinn Community College in Brenham, Tx., frustrated about his lack of playing time. Grounds has talked to J.K. often about sticking to his goals, telling him to persevere when a situation became difficult.
"Once J. K.'s father lost football, it was almost like he didn't care," Grounds said. "We split up, he ended up doing drugs. Whenever I would see Lawrence with friends that didn't mean him well, I'd tell J.K., 'You see that? Watch who your friends are.
"J.K. has always listened to me. We'd talk after school. He'd tell me about friends that he could no longer hang out with. He has always been mature. When his father died, I would ask J.K if he was okay, if he needed to talk to someone else about it. But in some ways, he became more motivated. By his father not being able to see how far he has come, it inspired him. J.K. inspires me. He's just a dedicated, driven person."
When Dobbins chose Ohio State, Grounds didn't allow the long distance between Texas and Ohio to keep her away. She flew to games every weekend, despite the expense.
"I didn't think he'd play much as a freshman, so I thought I'd have time to save money," Grounds said laughing. "I was wrong. I couldn't imagine not being at those games to support him."
Grimes was asked if she planned to be a regular attendee at Ravens' games.
"Of course," she said laughing. "I've heard so many great things about the team, the people. Let me tell you, J.K. is really excited. Talking about it, I can't believe I'm not crying yet. But they'd be tears of joy. I'm just really happy for him."
Deb Bredeson, Ben Bredeson's mother
Every Mother's Day, Deb Bredeson gets a letter from her each of her three sons, Ben, Jack and Max. Each son writes about his mom and what makes her special. Deb loves the family tradition.
"I have every letter," Deb said. "They're in a box that's very special to me. It shows me their gratitude for washing their uniforms, getting them to practice, doing all the things that moms do. It started when they were little. Over the years the letters have gotten longer and more heartfelt."
Ben, the Ravens' fourth-round pick, said he gets much of his competitive nature from his mom. Deb competes in national retriever field trials, a competition for hunting dogs which measures how well they can retrieve in the field at longer distances.
"We grew up in a competitive house, and she is big in the field trial world," Bredeson said. "That's her passion, and she's extremely competitive in that. My dad (Mike) played college football at Illinois State, so we always grew up in a very competitive and athletically driven house. When you have three boys and none of them want to lose to each other, it's a catalyst. We're all super competitive here, and they're my best friends and my biggest rivals at the same time."
Deb admits she doesn't like to lose in dog competitions. In 2003, Bredeson and her dog, Patton, won a national open championship.
"In the dog world it's equivalent to winning the Super Bowl," Deb said. "That's probably where some of the boys' competitive nature started. They were on the road with me and they saw my competitiveness."
Deb was asked if she was more competitive than Ben. She laughed and hesitated for a long time.
"Oh boy," she said laughing. "He's probably a little more competitive."
But is it close? She laughed again.
"When he loses, I have to keep my composure," Deb said.
Deb is looking forward to attending Ravens games and cheering her son on. The cancellation of sporting events during the COVID-19 pandemic has made social distancing tougher to take. Deb's son Jack plays for Michigan's baseball team.
"Being locked down like this and not having sporting events to attend is torture," Deb said. "You don't realize how much you rely on your children's sporting events for your own entertainment and socialization. We're not going to miss one Ravens game."
Erin Stone, Geno Stone's mother
Erin Stone says her son can be stubborn, but she is very persistent. Geno planned on playing college football close to his hometown of New Castle, Pa. He dreamed of going to Penn State before he blossomed into a star safety at Iowa. But Stone didn't want to move that far from his mother.
"I grew up in a single-parent household," Geno said. "That's the only person I really had as my support system growing up. I had a bunch more people, but that was who I was closest to."
When the Nittany Lions did not offer Stone a scholarship, Stone's mom talked him into visiting Iowa although he really wasn't interested.
"I got all his football coaches together, without him knowing, for a surprise meeting to talk to him about it," Erin said. "He made every excuse possible. He didn't like to fly, so finally, I said, 'I'll drive you. We'll drive the 10 hours.'''
Stone had a playoff basketball game the night before his visit to Iowa, so after the game Erin and Geno drove all night. They both fell in love with Iowa and the coaching staff, so the trip was worth it. They drove back to Pennsylvania through a snowstorm, which took 15 hours.
Erin thought everything was set. It wasn't. Stone was still talking about staying close to home. So the Stones went for another ride. This time, Erin did most of the talking.
"I told Geno, 'I'm going to be okay if you go far away," Erin said. "I think that was his biggest thing, leaving me. As hard as it was for me to say I'd be okay, I had to. He called Iowa, he went, and here we are."
Erin became very familiar with those 10-hour drives to Iowa. She didn't miss any of Geno's games last season. She'll be at Ravens games next season, and the thought of driving to Baltimore on weekends sounds delightful.
"Just 4 ½ hours," Erin said. "We were just down there to look at some places. We went through a drive-through to eat, and came right back. Geno's my only child. He's my baby and he always will be. And he's my best friend."