In their loving hands

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:15 AM ET

Thanks to his grandmothers, Romby Bryant is in Winnipeg this month trying out for the Blue Bombers.

The seeds of success weren't exactly planted properly for the 28-year-old receiver when he was a toddler in Oklahoma City.

"When I was three my daddy went to prison, then he got out, then he went back," Bryant said yesterday after the first day of training camp.

"Then my mom was kind of in and out (of prison), and then she moved away and I didn't live with her. So I stayed with my uncle."

Bryant uttered those words with the same inflection that he might use to order a cheeseburger.

That's just the way life was.

Bryant may have lived with his uncle, Virgil Freelen, but it was his grandmothers, Clara Bryant and Edwina Romby, who made sure he stayed on the straight and narrow.

They obviously did a solid job, because Bryant shrugged when it was suggested his childhood couldn't have been easy having both parents out of the picture because of drugs.

SPORTING FAMILY

"It's however you look at it," he said. "I didn't do the same things they did, so I guess it was a positive.

"I had my grandmas. I guess some people don't have their grandmas. Some people don't have anybody. I had a good family."

It was a sporting family, too, which is why Bryant ended up on the gridiron. His dad, Leroy, even pushed him into sports when he wasn't behind bars.

"We were always in some type of sport," Bryant said. "Football, baseball, track, basketball. Always doing something."

Bryant spent two years at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M before finishing off his college eligibility at the University of Tulsa. He was with three NFL teams between 2004 and 2007, dressing for three games with the Atlanta Falcons in 2005.

The Baltimore Ravens cut him last October, so he decided to give Canada a try this year. Through rookie camp and the first day of main camp, Bryant has displayed excellent hands and good speed.

"I've done all right," he said. "All of us have done pretty good. We're all playing on the same level, but I think I've done all right."

The coaches must like what he's done, because yesterday he was in Milt Stegall's slotback spot with the first-team offence.

Bryant, who obviously learned to always look for the positives in life, is doing just that in his latest attempt to keep his football dream alive.

"I guess it's a good sign," he said. "I could be getting no reps."

Bryant communicates with his father, who is still in prison, as often as he can, while his relationship with his mother is not nearly as strong.

But he's not looking for pity. Thanks to his grandmas and his uncle, life has turned out all right.

"Everybody's got a story," he said. "There have been people who grew up worse than me."


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