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Tim Haddock | October 30, 2012

Famous fathers and football

The offensive linemen on the Diamond Bar High School football team quickly learned the advantages of having Cordell Broadus as a teammate.

Broadus, a sophomore wide receiver at Diamond Bar High School in Southern California, went to an Adidas football camp in Maryland over the summer and bought brand new gloves for all his linemen. That put him in good favor with the players assigned to protect him during games.

Broadus stands about a head taller than most of his teammates, even some of his offensive linemen. He is easy to pick out during drills at practice. He is a tad faster than everyone else. He is the one coaches are pulling from one play to the next, lining him up at defensive end, at cornerback, on special teams and his favorite position, wide receiver.

The parents on the sidelines at practice say he looks more like his mom than his dad. He is still awkward for his age, muscular, but clumsy at times. At 15, he still has time to grow into his body, and that is what college recruiters are counting on. Shante Taylor, Broadus’ mom, known as "Boss Lady" to the players and coaches on the Diamond Bar High School football team, is the disciplinarian. She puts academics before athletics when it comes to her children. When Broadus was struggling in math class, she hired a tutor for three hours a week so her son wouldn’t fall behind. Even though the coaches on the football team describe her as soft-spoken, she is one of the more vocal fans at games.

"She’s very loud, always cheering," Diamond Bar coach Ryan Maine said.

Cordell running a route He is known simply as
Coach Snoop.

Broadus has supportive parents with their priorities straight, parents who aren’t afraid to take their kids’ cell phones away if they are misbehaving or disrespectful. It doesn’t matter that Broadus is one of the fastest receivers in Orange County with a scholarship offer from UCLA and interest from other schools including Duke University and the University of Oregon and is the son of Snoop Dogg.

Snoop Dogg is considered one of the originators of gangsta rap. He has sold more than 30 million records, was a protégé of Dr. Dre, and has a lengthy criminal record for drugs and weapons possession and was once charged and acquitted of murder. Although Snoop has had fewer legal problems in recent years, his most recent run-in with the law came in January when he was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia when border patrol agents inspected his and Willie Nelson’s tour bus in Sierra Blanca, Texas.

Snoop Dogg is also a certified youth football coach. Around these parts of suburban Southern California east of Los Angeles where the Pomona and Orange freeways meet, he is known simply as Coach Snoop. His past is less important than his present in regard to his son and his teammates. At Diamond Bar Snoop Dogg is by all accounts a positive influence.

“Coach Snoop is always making sure that Cordell’s getting personal training and he’s respecting us,” Maine said. “He’s always coming around and offering advice to the kids. He goes to our practices sometimes, and to our games, and he’s our biggest fan in the stands.”

Creating his own identity

But having successful and athletic parents doesn’t always translate to stardom for the children. Broadus has a famous father, but that is nothing new in the towns and neighborhoods that surround Hollywood. Will Smith’s son Trey was a wide receiver in 2010 at Oaks Christian in Thousand Oaks, the same school where the sons of Joe Montana and Wayne Gretzky played football. Tavior Mowry, the little brother of Tia and Tamera Mowry, perhaps best known for their roles as twin sisters on the TV show Sister, Sister, was the running back at Westlake High School a couple years ago. Kendall and Kylie Jenner, the daughters of Bruce Jenner and Kris Kardashian, were cheerleaders at Sierra Canyon High School.

But having successful and athletic parents doesn’t always translate to stardom for the children. Nick Montana left his scholarship at the University of Washington to play for Mt. San Antonio College, a junior college in Southern California. Trey Smith ended his football career in high school. Trevor Gretzky turned down a scholarship offer to play baseball at San Diego State when he was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 2011.

Nick Montana with his parents at Oaks Christian

When the Sierra Canyon football team reached their California Interscholastic Federation state bowl game at the Home Depot Center in December, coach Jon Ellinghouse was more concerned about preparing his players for the biggest game in school history than who was at the game cheering. Don’t think people didn’t notice that there were more Kardashians at a high school football game in Carson than at the Lakers game at Staples Center that night.

“I know Bruce was on TV at the game,” Ellinghouse said. “But I don’t know how many others were there.”

For the most part, the cheerleading Jenner girls didn’t interrupt the football business of the Sierra Canyon players and staff. Still, it was hard to ignore their presence on campus and during games, even if Ellinghouse tried to downplay the Jenner girls’ ties to the football team.

“It was no different than having any other cheerleaders,” Ellinghouse said. “There was a lot of craziness that surrounds their life, but they were like any other teenage girls.”

As the girls might say: For sure.

Celebrities can take some unconventional measures to stay involved in the affairs of their children. Will Smith was known to take a helicopter to see his son Trey play football at Oaks Christian. Wayne Gretzky would walk the sidelines with his entourage to watch his son Trevor when he was playing quarterback for the Oaks Christian football team. Accommodating parents always takes a little forethought and preparation by a football coach. But how many have to worry about where to land a helicopter before kickoff?

Luckily for Coach Maine at Diamond Bar, he has no such concerns about Snoop Dogg and his family.

“We had a tough game against Norwalk. We lost 52-38, it was a shootout,” Maine said. “I got a call from him the next day and he said, ‘We love DB, we support you guys 100 percent. Just keep working on the kids. Anything you need from me, just let me know.’ He’s very supportive, always there to lend a helping hand.”

Although some stars from the sports and entertainment worlds send their kids to fancy, private schools like Sierra Canyon and Oaks Christian, others, like Broadus, play football at public high schools in the suburbs. Think what you will about Snoop’s past, but he and his son’s mother have tried to create a normal life for their son.

Broadus attended Long Beach Poly, the same school as his father, in his freshman season. Snoop Dogg is one of the most famous alumni of Long Beach Poly, but he is also one of the most controversial. Although he played football in high school, had he not become a musical icon he would be better remembered there for his involvement in the gang lifestyle on campus and in the surrounding neighborhoods. On the football field and in the classroom, he squandered his opportunities.

Long Beach Poly has the history and reputation of being one of the top football programs in the state, if not the country. The school has been sending players to the pro ranks since 1927. Former NFL stars Mark Carrier, Willie McGinest and Carl Weathers played at Poly. Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson and Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis are among the Poly alumni currently in the NFL. Long Beach Poly was selected as the “Sports School of the Century” by Sports Illustrated in 2005.

For the young Broadus, going to Poly each day required a 75-mile round trip on congested Orange County freeways. After one season in the Poly program and after discussions with his mom and dad, Broadus decided to transfer to Diamond Bar to be closer to his family. “I live in Diamond Bar,” Broadus said. “My house is right down the street. We just talked about it. We had a long talk and she got me to do it. We just made it happen.”

Cordell at practice

Diamond Bar, with a student population of about 3,100, has only one winning season since 2004. The team Broadus is on has won only three of its first nine games. It is definitely a different world of football in Diamond Bar, but Broadus wanted to step out of his dad’s shadow.

“Cordell doesn’t want to be known as Snoop Dogg’s son,” Maine said. “He wants to be known as Cordell Broadus, blue-chip wide receiver at Diamond Bar High School. He’s very humble. He just enjoys playing football. Last year he was really shy. This year, he’s more talkative. The kids are liking him more and more.”

Maine said he was happy Broadus decided to come to Diamond Bar. Not only is Broadus one of the top receivers on the team, he is playing defensive end. Broadus has the speed to be one of the more dangerous weapons on offense and at 6’2 has the size to play on the defensive line.

“He told me he was going to try out Poly and I respected that,” Maine said. “October of last year, they enrolled here. It took him a little while to adjust and now he’s in a good mood, always smiling, and I think he really found a good niche.”

The recruitment process for Broadus has only begun. Broadus is off to a nice start at Diamond Bar. Through the first eight games of the season he caught 26 passes for 322 yards, and in a loss in game nine against West Covina he added a 75-yard touchdown catch, his fifth of the season. He missed the first game of the season recovering from bronchitis. Maine said Broadus wasn’t completely healthy until the third week.

“This program is all about teamwork,” Broadus said. “Everybody is here to help somebody. That’s what you need if you want to be successful. Teamwork makes a dream work.” The recruitment process for Broadus has only begun. He most certainly has a future in college and playing football. By the time he is a senior, he might have more scholarship offers and tough choices to make. He said he is committed to UCLA, but a lot can change in the next two years.

What is certain is that Broadus can count on Snoop Dogg, the father, to guide him through the transition from high school to college.

“He’s like a coach, like another coach,” Broadus said. “That’s why I love him so much. He’s always there for me. I call him every day. He calls me every day. He’s just there for me, whenever for me.”

Outside the world of gangsta rap and hip-hop, Snoop Dogg tries to live the suburban life. His wife and kids live in a quiet, bedroom community, much different from the tough streets of Long Beach where Snoop Dogg grew up. He coaches a Pop Warner team that practices at Diamond Bar after the high school teams are done. He coached his son’s teams at the Pop Warner level until Broadus started high school. Even after Broadus moved on to play prep football, Snoop Dogg continued to coach Broadus’ two younger brothers and started the Snoop Youth Football League. On occasion, he comes out to Diamond Bar High School to teach his players how to catch passes, run routes and add some schwizzel to their game.

Off the field, Snoop Dogg is one of the Diamond Bar football team’s biggest supporters. He led a drive to buy the players new uniforms. They were able to purchase three new sets, a home, away and special, purple uniforms, perhaps to be used for their first playoff game or homecoming.

“The kids are really stoked about that,” Maine said. “He said to me if you look the part, you play the part. He wants to make sure the kids are making a good memory of their high school career.”


The advantages of having a famous teammate extend beyond new uniforms. After Duke defensive back coach Derek Jones came out to watch Broadus play early in the season, Maine said the Duke recruiters started asking about Kanya Bell, a sophomore defensive back who is also one of Broadus’ cousins.

University of Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich made a visit to one of Diamond Bar’s games and Maine said he anticipates more coaches from the Pac-12 will follow. At first, being Snoop Dogg’s son was enough for schools to take a glance at Broadus. But after seeing him play, college football programs are starting to take notice of Broadus because of his athletic ability and academics, not because of his father.

“It’s a competitive industry and coaches’ jobs are on the line,” Maine said. “They want to get the best athletes on their teams. Whatever program he goes to, dad’s going to go there and be supportive, too, just like he’s been supportive of us. It’s going to be a good thing for wherever he goes.”

But having a celebrity for a father doesn’t hurt either, right?

“To be honest, that doesn’t matter if it does or not,” Maine said. “You offer the athlete, not the name. All that stuff is paid for already. The financial aid doesn’t come from the government. Scholarship funds are set aside to where they want to give it. If schools aren’t going to offer Cordell because of who he is, other schools are going to offer him and they’re going to be sorry they didn’t get him down the road.”

The Combs drama

Broadus shares some similarities with another son of a famous hip-hop mogul. Broadus, the teenage football star, shares some similarities with another son of a famous hip-hop mogul. Justin Combs, the son of Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, is at UCLA on a football scholarship as a freshman defensive back.

A top recruit out of Iona Prep School in New York in high school and described as an undersized, but athletic defensive back, he was recruited by Illinois, Iowa, West Virginia, Virginia and Middle Tennessee before deciding to accept a scholarship to attend UCLA. Almost immediately some wondered whether Justin Combs deserved a scholarship or even needed one when his father was such a rich and successful entertainer and singer – Forbes estimates Sean Combs’ net worth at $550 million. The football player was criticized in newspapers and accused on sports talk radio of taking advantage of his father’s fame to attend UCLA.

Justin Combs at UCLA practice

Bill O’Reilly of Fox News was one of the biggest critics. He said on his TV show in June that Sean Combs should pay his son’s tuition at UCLA and let some other kid have the scholarship.

Writers at Forbes magazine, the Los Angeles Times and Huffington Post also questioned whether the son of Sean Combs needed a scholarship to attend college. The writers collectively wondered if the money, estimated at $54,000 per year, should be awarded to another player on the football team who was in more need of financial aid.

Even when Justin Combs donated a $10,000 birthday check to the Haitian relief effort, it wasn’t enough to stop critics from saying his family was too rich for him to have a football scholarship. The controversy prompted UCLA to issue a statement to address the criticism.

“Unlike need-based scholarships, athletic scholarships are awarded to students strictly on the basis of their athletic and academic ability — not their financial need,” the school’s statement read.

“Athletic scholarships, such as those awarded to football or basketball players, do not rely on state funds. Instead, these scholarships are entirely funded through UCLA Athletics ticket sales, corporate partnerships, media contracts and private donations from supporters.”

Justin Combs has no intention of giving up his scholarship or his spot on the football team. He was a top recruit at his position and qualified academically for some of the top universities in the country. Many talented football players end up elsewhere because they don’t meet the academic requirements needed to attend UCLA.


“I worked hard,” said Justin Combs, who had a reported 3.75 grade point average in high school. “I got noticed for my achievements on and off the field and in the classroom. And I was scouted. High school football was one of the best times of my life. I made a lot of lifelong friends. I loved everything about it.”

Across the field at UCLA practices is the son of another famous father. Jerry Rice Jr. plays wide receiver for the Bruins, the same position as his Hall of Fame father. But Rice Jr. is hardly a star. He wasn’t even one of their top recruits. He made the team as a walk-on and only then earned a scholarship.

He has no regrets or complaints about how he earned his spot on the team. He remembers how the recruiting process wasn’t as glamorous as he expected.

“It was a long time ago now. I’m an OG now,” said Rice, a junior at UCLA. “I got recruited mostly as a walk-on position, like at Cal, Stanford, Arizona, UCLA. I had a couple offers, but the reason I chose to come to UCLA was because I liked the way the team was going, the progress. I love the location and obviously education was a factor for me.”

Jerry Rice, Jr., a wide receiver walk-on at UCLA

No one questions whether Rice should accept scholarship money from UCLA. While his father is not as rich as Sean Combs, Rice has a father with incredible influence and the financial wherewithal to pay for his son’s college education.

Justin Combs said he wanted to go to UCLA for a number of reasons. He has family in Los Angeles and he said he fell in love with the campus almost immediately.

“I have some siblings out here. As soon as I got on the campus, it was love at first sight,” Combs said. “I love the campus and I love the whole tradition about UCLA.”

Football will be a big part of Justin Combs’ college experience. UCLA coach Jim Mora said Combs is a little small for a college defensive back, but he likes his work ethic.

“I think he’s a very smart player. He plays with some savvy,” Mora said. “He’s got a fight-the-size factor. He’s not the biggest guy in the world, but he plays with good technique. As he develops, he will become a real good player at this level.”

There might come a time when Justin Combs and Broadus will be teammates at UCLA. Broadus said he likes the school for many of the same reasons as Justin Combs. For Broadus, it’s close to home, and he wants to stay in Southern California when he goes to college.

“I’d go there right now if I could,” Broadus said. “I’m doing pretty good in school. School is first before anything. In my house, that’s the number one thing we push, good grades. Last year I had a 3.1 but I’m aiming higher for this year, maybe a 3.5 or higher. I just want to be real successful in the classroom and outside the classroom.”

For Justin Combs, he wants a chance to show what he can do on the football field.

“I just want to help my team as best as I can, be the best player I can be,” Justin Combs said. “I’m just going to work hard to be the best player I can be.”


Pursuing a career in football

It’s no secret Snoop Dogg is an avid USC fan. He has been to practices, even worked out with the team during passing drills when Pete Carroll was the coach. Broadus might change his mind in the next two years, but it won’t be by means of his dad’s persuasion.

“He’s just there for me. He doesn’t care about USC, UCLA,” Broadus said. “Even though he’s a big fan of USC, he’s just real happy that I have an offer [from UCLA]. Just being a fan doesn’t mean nothing. I’m still going to be his son at the end of the day.”

Snoop Dogg attends a USC game

Being Snoop Dogg’s son is inherently controversial.Being Snoop Dogg’s son is inherently controversial. Snoop Dogg has a much more tainted past than Sean Combs, spending time in prison for selling and possessing drugs and making millions celebrating the gangsta lifestyle through his music, something certain elements of the media find incendiary. When Broadus finally arrives at a campus to start his college football career, it seems likely he will face many of the same questions that greeted Justin Combs at UCLA.

Broadus would like to avoid that type of scrutiny. But if he continues on the path that leads to UCLA, he most certainly can expect the same type of reception. He is already drawing attention from Southern California newspapers for his football talents and his relation to Snoop Dogg. It probably won’t be long before Broadus is criticized for being another rich rapper’s son taking scholarship money away from a student who might be in more need. Of course that’s not the way athletic scholarships are awarded, but that didn’t stop the critics of Sean Combs or UCLA.

“It’s a blessing and it’s a curse at the same time.” “It’s a blessing and it’s a curse at the same time,” Broadus said. “I don’t care about all that media stuff. I’m just glad he’s there to be a part of my life. Some of my friends don’t have that father figure in their life. My dad is there for me and also my mother. I am really blessed.”

But Broadus knows that having a famous and successful father has its drawbacks. He tries to block it out as much as he can and focus on playing football. But it’s not always easy.

“The reason I picked UCLA is because I’m from California,” Broadus said. “I felt comfortable with the coaching staff. The receiver coach, he’s a real nice guy. I call him every weekend. We chat a lot. Jim Mora, luckily he was able to offer me, so I committed right then and there. No need to sit around and waste time.”

When asked about having a player with a high-profile father like Justin Combs on his football team, Mora said, “It’s not something that I think about.” But it’s hard to ignore. Although as a red-shirt freshman, Justin Combs has yet to play a minute of football in UCLA’s first eight games. When he does, another wave of coverage and criticism likely awaits Mora and Puff Daddy.

The cycle might repeat itself when Broadus arrives at UCLA. There are definitely some advantages to having such a wealthy and influential supporter of the football program. But is it worth it? For UCLA and Mora, the answer right now is most certainly yes. But maybe after a second round of an invasion of hip-hop culture, Mora might change his mind.

For the time being, Puff Daddy and his son are part of the UCLA football family. If Broadus continues on his current path, Snoop Dogg and his son will be part of the UCLA football family. The debate of whether either player deserves or needs a scholarship to attend UCLA will surface again. Snoop Dogg will need more than a pair of new Adidas gloves to protect his son when it happens.


About the Author

Tim_haddock_web

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220 in Santa Clarita,
Calif. He covers high school football for the Ventura County Star, writes
for the Team USA website and covers NASCAR for K&N. His work has appeared on
ESPN.com, the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News and Glendale
News-Press. He writes his own sports blog, Sports by Haddock. Follow him on
Twitter @thaddock.

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