Hard work takes Wilcox from tobacco fields to Garden

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Hard work takes Wilcox from tobacco fields to Garden

Chris Wilcox isnt afraid of hard work.

Growing up in Whiteville, North Carolina, it was the only option.

I worked in the fields and did everything, Wilcox told CSNNE.com. Im a country boy. I picked tobacco. We had dogs chasing hogs back. We had everything. You name it, I did it.

The Boston Celtics power forward was raised in a family with a strong work ethic. His mother, Debra Brown, was as a corrections officer and worked in the prisons for nearly 30 years and his father, Raymond Wilcox, recently retired from his job at a federal penitentiary.

I knew how to work for mine, he said. I never wanted something to be given because I always could work for it.

Wilcox began working when he was around 11 years old. Before he was pulling down rebounds, he was hanging tobacco. Before he was protecting the paint, he was protecting himself from animals he encountered in the barns.

I was in the country, so it wasnt even a town, Wilcox said. Tobacco fields and all that all the way around. Everywhere around me, it was all farm land. You could easily get work. The main thing in North Carolina was tobacco. School wouldnt even be in yet if the tobacco wasnt out of the fields, they would push school back.

I picked tobacco. I hung tobacco in the barn. In tobacco fields, a tobacco barn isnt anything but a barn in the middle of the field thats just been sitting there. So when you open the door, you could see anything in there. If you saw a snake you had to kill it, but I never messed around with snakes. Thats when you get the big rats, everything.

In addition to working with tobacco, Wilcox and his friends asked neighbors if they needed their lawns cut or other odd jobs done around their homes and on their land.

We used to have dogs in the neighborhood to chase the pigs back when they get out, he said. Theyd give us five dollars if you bring your dog up there and chase the hogs back into the pen. Im deep down in the country.

One of Wilcoxs earliest jobs involved going around to local schools, helping to barrel old milk, and then pouring it into buckets to feed the pigs. It wasnt glamorous -- and it didnt always smell great -- but it was how he and his friends spent many of their days growing up.

Everybody in the neighborhood, we would work, he said. Anything we could do in the neighborhood, thats what we did.

This season Wilcox is looking to work as hard in Boston as he did back in Whiteville. After suffering a shoulder injury, he is looking to turn around a slow start. He is averaging just 2.4 rebounds per game -- the least since his rookie year -- and a career-low 1.4 points per game off the Celtics bench.

But the big man who learned to drive on his uncles tractor is driven to succeed. He returns to his hometown every summer, remembers where he came from, and tells himself to keep going further.

It showed me what Ive been through and that nothing is ever given to you, Wilcox said. When times get rough, I just look back.

Bruschi to serve as honorary captain for Patriots before AFC title game

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Bruschi to serve as honorary captain for Patriots before AFC title game

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will have a good-luck charm of sorts on their side before they take on the Steelers for the AFC Championship.

Former Patriots linebacker and three-time Super Bowl champ Tedi Bruschi will serve as an honorary captain Sunday, taking the field for the pre-game coin toss with Devin McCourty, Dont'a Hightower and Matthew Slater. Tom Brady is the team's fourth active captain, though, he rarely participates in the coin toss. 

"With an undefeated record in games that we have honored him, I can't think of a more perfect player to serve as honorary captain this Sunday," team chairman and CEO Robert Kraft said in a statement. "He was called the perfect Patriot by head coach Bill Belichick, and he has lived up to that nickname with an 8-0 record in games where he has been a part of the Patriots celebration."

Bruschi is 2-0 as an honorary captain in AFC Championship Games, taking part in the pre-game festivities in the conference title games in both 2012 and 2015. Bruschi was last at Gillette Stadium as an honorary captain back in Week 13, when the Patriots took on the Rams and celebrated the franchise's Super Bowl XXXVI victory back in 2002.