**Warning: article contains graphic content.
He is lucky to be alive. Yet, The Breaux Show has been renewed for another season. This one will be based on the west coast of Canada with BC Place serving as his primary home address. We are talking, of course, about Delvin Breaux Sr., the former defensive playmaker with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats who was a surprise addition to the Lions on a busy opening day of free agency.
A two-time CFL All-Star and member of the league’s inaugural All-Decade team announced in November 2020, Breaux Sr. turned some heads in his 49 games with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats split between 2013-14 and 2018-19. In between was a stint with his hometown New Orleans Saints.
Along the way, his show has also involved some twists and turns, even of the life-threatening variety. From growing up in the Iberville projects and all over the city of New Orleans and dealing with an abusive father who almost drove him to suicide at an unthinkable age to a serious neck injury in high school that almost left him paralyzed or dead, Breaux Sr. certainly has a story to tell. For now, he’s just happy to be back playing football after announcing his retirement before the 2021 campaign.
“Just talking to God, I was asking for his blessing to get back on the field, man,” said Breaux from his Louisiana home.
“The signs were there. I was still working out, still starting every morning at 5. I was in a great state of mind, mentally speaking. I kept saying to myself: why am I doing this? I’m supposed to be retired. I decided a couple of weeks before free agency I was coming back. I never felt like I left the game. I was still watching guys play over the last year. That’s what wanted me to get back out there. It was a no-brainer to end my short retirement.”
He’s joining a secondary that boasts a few key veterans already, such as TJ Lee, Garry Peters, Marcus Sayles and fellow free agent addition Loucheiz Purifoy. It will be a defensive backfield of experienced ballhawks. Breaux also brings with him a chilling story that he certainly isn’t for the faint of heart.
Breaux Survived Torturous Childhood
Those early childhood experiences weren’t unlike many young kids in the southern United States. Breaux and his siblings initially lived with their mother in a small house crammed full of ten people, including an aunt and some cousins. When the large family wound up being evicted from the house, Delvin’s father Bruce took over custody of him and his brothers, Derek and Henry. That’s when the beatings started. Football eventually became the escape and seemingly the only ticket out of the Hell he was beginning to live in.
“My dad would just beat me with a bat,” he says.
“That was his idea of punishment. He always referred to it as ‘tough love.’
Delvin Breaux Sr.
“I don’t know what the hell you could do so wrong that would result in getting beat with a bat. He would punish me by making me kneel on un-cooked rice for an hour or two on our ceramic floor. That trauma and torture are always going to be with me because that’s what it was, man.”
As explained in his autobiography Un-Breaux-Ken, the worst beating he endured was the result of a missing bag of Fritos corn chips that went missing. That resulted in his dad bringing out his size ten, steel-toed work boot and forcing the boys to strip themselves of all their clothes. It wasn’t until Derek falsely admitted to eating the chips until when this particular beating stopped.
Breaux looks back at this period of time as the turning point in his life. He now admits he contemplated suicide at the age of nine in order to escape the torture.
“I can’t stand those Fritos chips to this day,” he admits.
“Our dad never smoked, never drank, never did anything like that. We don’t know where that type of anger comes from. He was a dictator. His way or the highway. That’s why I am the person I am today. I just want to play football.”
Coughing Up Pills
Breaux wound up making a name for himself in the New Orleans high school football scene and quickly began drawing the attention of the bigger colleges in the south, eventually committing to play for the LSU Tigers.
Breaux was playing at John McDonogh 35 Senior High, where his dad still works as a track coach and had urged his sons to play after their middle school days came to an end. Two days after his 17th birthday, Delvin’s dream almost ended.
The injury occurred when an opponent’s knee contacted his helmet when Breaux was covering a kickoff. Despite being able to walk off the field under his own power. he quickly knew something wasn’t right.
“This sharp pain went all the way down my neck,” Breaux remembers.
“I turned over and immediately saw my dad. They tried to give me ibuprofen, but I couldn’t swallow them because a disc had slipped. I’m on the sideline, trying to cough up pills and the pain is excruciating. Next thing I know, I have a neck brace on and I’m in the ambulance.”
What followed was one month in the hospital where doctors told him it might take several months to learn to walk again. His LSU dream was over before it officially began. The thought of playing football anywhere ever again also appeared to be a pipe dream.
“I told them to give my five days and I’d be walking again.”
Delvin Breaux Sr.
“And you know what? I did. The therapist couldn’t believe it. Once I got discharged, I started doing whatever I could. I was training with little one-pound dumbbells. At least it was something. I couldn’t really do anything that involved moving my neck, but I knew I had to do something to have a chance at playing football. LSU didn’t happen. Not playing college ball at all, not many could overcome that. So, it’s something I take great pride in.”
From the Iberville Projects to an abusive home with his father to nearly suffering paralysis. You’d be hardpressed to find someone who overcame that many obstacles to achieve a long pro career. Now The Breaux Show looks to pursue a Grey Cup with his new Lions teammates.
Breaux Moves West
It was while he was playing with the Gridiron Developmental League Louisiana Bayo Vipers when Breaux first caught the eye of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Upon moving north to Steel Town, Breaux made an immediate impact by helping the Tiger-Cats reach back-to-back Grey Cups in 2013 and 2014. He earned his first CFL All-Star nod in year two and would parlay that performance into a contract with the Saints.
After a solid 2015 campaign where he recorded three interceptions and 45 tackles, a serious leg contusion cut his second NFL season short and ultimately ended his dream down south. He was back with the Tiger-Cats for 2017 and 2018 before the premature retirement announcement prior to last year. He admits a deal with the Lions wasn’t expected at first.
“I didn’t talk to them until the opening day of free agency,” he says.
“Initially, my top destinations were Toronto, Edmonton and Hamilton. The next thing I know, my agent is telling me Montreal and BC are the top destinations. Coming to the West Coast is something I couldn’t pass up. I always loved playing against BC and being a part of some big games with Hamilton. When you’re fighting for a ring, you try to enjoy those moments because you never know when they’re coming back.”
With a solid group of ball hawks to play with, you never know what’s in store for The Breaux Show in 2022. Along the way, he’d also love to have a better relationship with Bruce. Being a father himself to four-year-old Delvin Breaux Jr. has given him a whole new perspective on life and how to approach things the right way.
“I never stopped thinking about him every day,” Breaux explains of his own father.
“I wish one day we can sit down as men and talk about it. If given the chance, I’d say:
‘I forgave you years ago and I’m hoping you find a way to reach out and let’s just talk about it while you’re still here. I’ve tried but it’s your turn. I need to know who you are as a person and as a father then that’ll help me understand the things that happened. I Love you pops and nothing will ever change that.'”