Brynn Cameron and NFL quarterback Matt Leinart are no longer together as a couple but do have a 9-month-old son together.
Brynn Cameron, inspired to set example for son, is giving basketball another shot
Balancing the titles of student and college athlete can be challenging enough.
Brynn Cameron is adding a third title — mother — when she returns to the USC campus this fall. The USC women’s basketball player, healthy now after two hip operations and with a young child in her life, is welcoming the challenges and accompanying joys of motherhood.
For now, Cameron and Cole Cameron Leinart, son of NFL quarterback Matt Leinart, are enjoying the summer months. Cameron returns to college at the end of August and will continue working out with a return to the USC women’s basketball team in mind. Almost a season and a half has passed since Cameron lofted her smooth jumper for the Trojans, but she is now healthy and motivated to set an example for her son.
“I’m going to do it for Cole and show Cole things happen, but you can always make the most out of any situation,” said the Newbury Park High graduate.
His presence has influenced Cameron, 21, who has always wanted to be a mom, but never expected a child this soon.
“When this all happened, it was like, Wait, I didn’t want it to happen like this,’ ” Cameron said. “But now that he’s here, he’s changed my life and he’s made it. I can’t even explain it. Being a mom is the best thing ever. He makes everything worth it.”
Monday morning, she sat in a chair in her parents’ living room, her lively son, Cole, sitting in her lap. Cameron picked up a toy lizard, and held it in front of the smiling baby, mother and son at play. Cameron was relaxed with Cole always nearby.
Cameron’s life changed in spring of 2006 after she underwent her second operation to repair a labral tear in her left hip. Cameron learned shortly after the surgery that she was pregnant.
She shared the news only with friends and family. Cameron gave birth to Cole on Oct. 24, 2006, at 9:33 p.m. He weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces.
Her USC teammates kept in touch through phone calls and text messages throughout her pregnancy and visited her in the delivery room. They made her feel involved even though she sat out the season, and Cameron reciprocated by attending three USC games.
Cameron, who is living with her parents, spent the next three months doting on Cole and then one day went with her father to Newbury Park High’s gym and shot for the first time in almost seven months.
Misfiring at first, she rediscovered her shooting form and has spent the spring and summer getting back in shape. Usually, she wakes up in the morning and works out and lifts weights with her younger brother Colby. They then go to the beach with Cole for the day and when they return, she goes off and shoots baskets or finds pick-up games.
“I never thought I’d say this, but it’s actually been a lot of fun,” Cameron said.
As long as she is patient with herself, USC coach Mark Trakh says they will be patient too.
“I think she brings a skill that is hard to find,” he said. “You can’t find somebody that shoots like that very often.”
The 5-foot-10 Cameron led USC with 72 3-pointers and averaged 9.8 points a game during her freshman year in 2004-05. The following season, she played in just 13 games, still bothered by pain in her hip, as she made 19 three-pointers and averaged 5.5 points.
People inside and outside the USC women’s basketball program say they’ve seen motherly traits in Cameron.
Cameron took an interest in Jody and Derek Wynn’s young child, Jada, early on and baby sat whenever the husband-wife USC assistant coaches needed help during her freshman and sophomore years.
“We’ve always known that she was going to be a great mother,” Derek Wynn said. “Jada loves her.”
Cameron, who’s noticed the example the Wynns have set, has talked with the couple about balancing basketball and motherhood.
“There’s a time and place where you have to be serious and take care of business and everybody understands that,” said Jody Wynn, who, coincidentally, is expecting a second girl on Oct. 24 — Cole’s birthday. “But there’s also a time and place where after a hard loss a kid can lighten the mood.”
Cameron says Cole will travel with his grandmother on longer road trips and stay home on shorter trips.
Back at home, Cameron had an early experience with what motherhood entails when her older sister, Emily Monroy, gave birth to a daughter, Drew, on Dec. 12, 2005. Cameron occasionally came home from school and always looked for her niece.
“It’s just been so much fun to be able to be mommies together because it’s new for me too,” Monroy said. “I’ve never done it. She’s been a great support to me.”
Leinart has been vocal in the media about his fondness for his son. He frequently speaks about his need to balance his time so he can be there for Cole. Cameron and Leinart, who dated during Leinart’s time at USC, broke up in 2006.
Cameron wants to shield her son from the tabloids, entertainment magazines and other sensational media.
“It’s kind of hard for me as the mom — I’m with Cole probably 99.9 percent of the time — to open a magazine or read a newspaper article with Matt saying, Oh, I love being a dad. I love changing diapers. I love doing this. I’m like, Wait, what?’ ” said Cameron, who added, “I don’t know how to word how he is about this, but it’s been hard when I’m doing all the work, but he gets all the credit for it.”
The Arizona Cardinals quarterback and former USC star “comes and goes whenever he wants,” Cameron said.
Cameron says she and Leinart have Cole’s best intentions in mind, but co-parenting is a challenge with two unique individuals.
“I don’t want to sit here and bad-mouth his lifestyle, but it is hard because we are different people. He likes that Hollywood stuff and I don’t like that and raising a kid together, you have to work together as parents, but we’re so different,” Cameron said.
“It’s hard, but I have to raise Cole to be a strong, secure kid so he knows what’s right and wrong, what’s good and bad and what really matters in life, which isn’t what’s going on in Hollywood or who’s dating who. That’s not what it’s all about, and I think he’ll know that being raised by me.”
Cameron took spring term off from school and is living with her parents.
“They love being grandparents, so it’s just nice for Cole to be in a family atmosphere because of our situation,” Cameron said. “He has his mom and dad, but not at home all together. We’re not one big family, but he gets that sense of family and that security that comes along with all that with me being at home.”
Cameron plans on renting an apartment near campus so she can stay there when she has early-morning practices or long school days, but will regularly drive back to Newbury Park. Whether she’s staying at USC or staying with her parents, Cole will always be with her.
All involved with Cameron have witnessed how people can learn from her experience.
“There are a lot of good lessons here,” Trakh said. “The conditions weren’t ideal, but life isn’t always ideal. There are things that happen and how you handle those things and how you handle adversity is a judgment of who you are. I think Brynn could have quit, but she didn’t.”
Matt Leinart tells People magazine he’s sought to spend more time with his 9-month-old son by ex-girlfriend Brynn Cameron, even seeking the help of the courts.
“I love Cole more than anything or anyone,” the Arizona Cardinals quarterback said in an exclusive statement. “I also really care about his mom and would never say anything disparaging about her. I want to help him experience life’s lessons that were taught to me by my mom and dad.”
Cameron has criticized Leinart’s parenting. She told the Ventura County Star that she often reads that Leinart says he loves being a dad, but that she in fact spends “99.9 pecent of the time” with Cole and that “it’s been hard when I’m doing all the work, but he gets all the credit.”
But Leinart says that is not the entire story.
“Regardless of the allegations made, I have gone to great lengths to increase my custodial time with Cole,” he says. “This includes seeking intervention from the family law court.”
He did not elaborate on the court activity.
“I don’t know if Cole’s mother is motivated by anger or by financial gain,” he adds, “but it is my sincere hope that one day we will be able to effectively co-parent our son who we both love very much.”
Hmmm….Matt sounds like a jerk! She is just focusing on being a mother to her son…and his comment about not knowing if she is motivated by financial gain is obnoxious!
Best wishes to Brynn and her beautiful son!