Looking at the two of them, you wouldn’t know they were brothers – but they are. Not by blood but by love, mutual respect and football. Travali “Trey” Price and Jayden “Bird” Tate, both seniors at North Lincoln High School, first started playing optimist football together under Coach Jeremy Tate (Bird’s dad). Even then, Tate said he knew Price was special, had a lot of talent and was going to do something one day.
“My dad, now (Tate), always admired my work ethic,” Price said. “He knew I was engaged as a kid and what I was dealing with at home.”
Price’s homelife wasn’t as good as it could be, and Price was spending a lot of time at the Tate’s house. The time came when Price needed a place to go and he had it, with the Tate family. This was when the boys were both in the eighth grade.
“My dad asked me if I was okay with it,” Bird said. “I told him ‘heck yea. I’ll take a brother.’ It took a little time to adjust but we had fun through it. Now we’re here and are really good friends and brothers. We don’t argue, we just agree about everything.”
Bird has a younger biological brother, two stepsisters and one biological sister. Caroline Tate (Bird’s stepmother) now calls their family, with three boys and three girls, the “Tate Bunch.”
“We’ve got kids over at our house all the time so it’s no big deal,” Jeremy Tate said. “I want my family to know that family doesn’t have to be blood. As these guys grow up and if the opportunity comes for them one day to help someone out, then they’ve seen the path.”
Schoolwork is a high priority in the Tate house and after he moved in, Price’s grades went from Cs and Ds to As and Bs.
“I treat him just like my son,” Jeremy Tate said. “We don’t want anyone else to think of him as anything different. We aren’t doing it for any other reason but that we love him, and he loves us. That’s the bottom line.”
We don’t think of him as anyone but ours, Caroline Tate added.
Given both boys are competitive, she added, they try to outdo each other both on the football field and in grades.
“We have expectations that they get good grades,” she said. “You can’t get in college, even if you’re the best football player in the country, if you don’t have good grades. It’s not just about being talented, you’ve got to be well-rounded. Education’s a part of that as is being a good kid. They’ve both ticked both of those boxes.”
Both boys have been accepted with full football scholarships at North Carolina State University.
“Once we both got our full rides there, we were super excited,” Bird said. “Going to the same school will help us out. A lot of people have trouble going to a school and getting used to being away from their family. Having someone that we know there will help both of us out a lot.”
Football practice has started up and Trey and Bird have been able to get out on the field to practice. The remote learning has enabled both boys to spend more time weight training so they’re strong and ready.
“I think it prepared them a little more for college,” Caroline Tate said. “A lot of their classes are going to be online anyway, so it gets them a little better prepared for that change.”
Trey is a finalist in WSOCTV’s Big 22 Player of the Year.