KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WIS) - Former Clemson Tiger Bashaud Breeland still cannot believe what awaits him next Sunday.
The Kansas City Chiefs defensive back will play in Super Bowl 54.
Breeland brings more than his shutdown corner ability to the field in Miami. He provides a great spirit. It's the same one that allowed him to overcome childhood poverty in his hometown of Allendale, South Carolina.
"I didn't have much growing up," he said.
As a child, Breeland lived in poverty in a single-parent home with four siblings. And the circumstances in his life at the time offered a clearer path to self-destruction than personal success.
"If you weren't strong-minded, then you wouldn't see it through,” Breeland said. “You'd give up."
"I've seen a lot of kids make the wrong decision,” former Allendale-Fairfax head coach Wayne Farmer said. “Live for the moment and not the process. He trusted the process."
That process began when Breeland entered the eighth grade. Farmer, who coach Breeland at Allendale-Fairfax, took Breeland under his wings.
"He knew what he wanted in life,” Farmer recalled. “He wanted to get out of Allendale and become successful. He chose to do what some didn't do that he left back in Allendale."
"He saw potential in every one of us,” Breeland said of Farmer. “He embraced that. He put his hands around all of us."
Breeland, a three-sport high school star, had to juggle school, athletics, and home life. He'd miss practices to babysit his brothers and sisters while his mom worked to provide for the family.
"It wasn't hard,” Breeland said. “With the people we had in our corner, it wasn't hard."
"Always going to be adversity,” Farmer said. “It's how you come through adversity. It was tough. He had a lot of fun growing up. A lot of times, when you don't have anything, you don't know you don't have anything."
Breeland sacrificed, avoided the street life, and did so with pride to help his family. It translated to the field.
"Tells you how he plays on the field,” Farmer said. “He plays with that chip. He plays like he got to get fed. He's got to eat. He wants to be the best."
By the end of his sophomore season, the future NFL defensive back faced the most difficult decision of all when his mother decided to move the family to Columbia. Breeland chose to stay behind.
"Me being an intricate part of my siblings' life and them being an intricate part of my life, it was tough," Breeland said.
Ahead of his junior season at Allendale-Fairfax High School, Breeland opted to leave loved ones behind to pursue greatness on the gridiron. It was a difficult decision with a bigger picture in mind for the family.
"It was a hard decision,” Breeland said. “I'd rather sacrifice now so I'll be able to help them later. If I miss the opportunity that I have, I won't be able to help nobody."
Breeland stayed behind in Allendale and lived with his father, who he never met.
"I knew of him,” Breeland said. “But, at that time, our relationship was faint. When I got there, we started building a relationship. It had a big part on me and success as a player as well."
His bond with Farmer also played a pivotal role in the decision to remain at Allendale-Fairfax. Breeland blossomed into an exceptional student-athlete and a state champion on the track.
"You can feel and believe he has your back,” Breeland said. “I always appreciated that."
"Could have gone the other way, but, I think, because the way we coached him, nurtured him, and being consistent, was the biggest thing," Farmer said.
Scholarship offers to play football rolled in his junior year in 2008. Eventually, his future college coach, Clemson's Dabo Swinney, came to town for a home visit. Breeland moved the visit to the school because of his home situation.
"I ain't even have my own room growing up,” Breeland said. “At the time, I felt I was on an unequal playing field. I did it at the school in a realm I feel equal to these other kids."
Breeland's official visit to Clemson felt like a dream, so he became a Tiger.
"I didn't care how I got there,” Breeland said. “The opportunity of a lifetime. Not having much, I jumped on the opportunity."
The support from Farmer and his family traveled with him. In fact, in 2010, ahead of his freshman season, Farmer made sure Breeland had everything he needed to succeed in college. Because Breeland packed only a trash bag of clothes to move to Clemson, it's all he had.
"We stopped in Easley. I thought he had a lot more than he had,” Farmer said. “We went to Wal-Mart, we went to a couple of stores and got some more stuff. He saw through that. He didn't let that be an excuse not to do or go out there and do something wrong and try to make quick money."
From day one in Tiger Town, Breeland competed with an edge to prove himself and for all that loved him along the way. It's carried him to success in college and the pros, but the journey hasn’t been easy.
Breeland got into a fight as a rookie in Washington. He later signed a three-year deal with the Panthers in 2018, which was ripped away after he suffered an infection from a trip to the Dominican Republic that voided the contract. Breeland went on to sign with the Packers later that year in September. Then, he signed with the Chiefs for a one year deal this summer.
“At this point, I’m living the life,” Breeland said. “Going through the moments and enjoying it as much as I can. In the NFL you’ll have your ups and downs. I can say I’ve been here six years and enjoyed every moment.”
While the journey has been tough, Breeland never forgot where he came from and who helped him get there. Everything he does is for family and for his hometown.
"Doing what I have to do to better myself and put myself in a situation to help the kids that are there," Breeland said.
Now, the 27-year-old is proud to represent his family and all of Allendale in Super Bowl 54 with the Chiefs.
"I can't state how my emotions are going to be,” Breeland said. ”It's going to be a moment."
“I probably get a little choked up emotionally,” Farmer added. “I’m going to be so proud watching him.”