She appeared in his life as a guardian angel and left just as quickly. This is what made it so difficult. When Chris Westri got up to speak at the memorial service, he didn’t want to believe she was gone.
Kim Brody was supposed to see him the day before. That was the plan. She will leave her home in the Jacksonville area and head to South Florida for the Crows’ November 11 game against the Miami Dolphins. Vestry was flustered; his godmother has never been to any of his NFL games. He wanted to see her. He wanted to thank her. He never imagined that this weekend he would have to say goodbye.
“What’s amazing when someone gets shot down is that they won’t come back,” Westri, the third straight quarterback, said in an interview on Friday. It’s been a week since he celebrated Brody’s life with friends and family in Jacksonville. Brody died on October 30 after a severe stroke. She was 48. Now vacation was approaching. Without her, this would have been Westry’s first time in his adult life.
“It meant I could go out and really express how I feel about her and our relationship,” he said. “And I thought I was cool. Dude, I thought I was cool. You’re not cool until you run into something like that. ”
Westrey was about 14 years old when he met Brody. At Oakleaf High, a school in the Jacksonville suburbs where Westry will play a major defense role, she is, he says, not quite a team mom, because “she did it all.” Brody was a born caretaker, an elementary school teacher who also volunteered to work with equipment for the Oakleaf football team.
In Vestri, she felt sadness. His father, who had been absent for most of his life, died when he was young. Vestry’s home life was difficult. One day she invited him to dinner with her family.
“I don’t even know how we clicked, but we ended up clicking,” he said. “I don’t even know if it sounds like a mother’s intuition or something, but she just thought I was struggling. We have personally struggled with many things. I’m from an incomplete home. I feel like she just caught it. She just offered to help, and I am eternally grateful to her. I can never repay her for everything she did for me. ”
KB, as Westrey called it, became a back-up, a driver, a supplier. She took Westri to local soccer camps, where he distinguished himself as a rookie at the Southeast Conference level. She settled him in her house. She helped him feed and clothe him.
Brody soon became his godmother. “It’s very rare that I ever ask for help,” said Westry, a self-proclaimed introvert. “And I decided that I could trust her. … It seemed that what was understood did not need to be explained. With us, our relationship, this cannot be said on the first day, because I do not try my best to ask people for help. And when I did, she came out. ”
When Westrey signed with Kentucky and moved to Lexington, Brody made him focus on the road ahead. The little gestures that mattered most, Westrey said, were her reminders to do her homework before midnight, the 11-hour drive from Jacksonville to see him from time to time.
“What no one will ever do,” Westri said, “she did it for me.”
When his college career ended after 51 games and 34 Wildcats starts, Westri found a new home in the NFL. Signed by the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2019, he skipped his rookie season in Dallas before appearing in two games in 2020.
Westrey joined The Ravens this offseason, starred in training camp, and landed on the 53-man team that kicks off the season. With a knee injury, he has limited himself to just three games so far, but coach John Harbaugh called him “a great young man” on Monday. Westri’s skill set – a 6’4 ” frame with good speed – is unique to a full-back. Defense coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale joked earlier this season that Westry’s “just got off the bus is” incredible. ”
“The guy is so big, so long and so fast,” Martindale said, “I don’t know how we got him here, but God forbid [general manager] Eric [DeCosta] for that “.
The past month of Westri has been a month of sudden change. Brody’s stroke last month was so unexpected, he said, that he cannot visit her at her hospice. “That’s what hurts the most,” he said.
Less than two weeks later, Westry was active for the first time in nearly two months, playing in prime time the Ravens lost to the Dolphins. On Sunday, he earned his first career start, making a career record 56 defensive traps during an afternoon takeoff and fall against the Chicago Bears.
Now more than ever, Westri finds it difficult to separate his life from his. His voice trembled at times as he explained what she meant to him.
“She meant the whole world to me, man,” he said. “She has done almost everything in her power to help me succeed. And I could honestly say that if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be in this position. There are so many things that I can’t even tell you what she did for me. … I’m just forever grateful to her. ”
Westrey is still flipping through their old text messages, looking at photos on her phone, reminders of her grief, as well as others. Brody left behind a devoted husband, John, and loving family members. Her other godson is raising his own family in Florida. Westry knows this will be a tough Thanksgiving for everyone.
He imagines what she will say to comfort him, and it is a message from heaven that combines love and pragmatism: “Hey, this is part of life. You must continue. ” Wherever Vestri’s life took him, he would give way to her legacy, her spirit. At the end of last week’s workout, he pointed to the necklace he was wearing. A small medallion hung directly over his heart. According to him, Brody’s ashes were inside.
“I will never take it off,” he said. “It’s simple – it’s definitely KB.”