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Brandon Isaiah reflects on induction into hall of fame

Brandon Isaiah

Brandon Isaiah reflects on induction into hall of fame
May 11
15:44 2022

Brandon Isaiah, former Parkland High School standout football and basketball player, was inducted into the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Hall of Fame sponsored by the Winston-Salem Sportsmen Club last Friday night.

Isaiah was one of the best running backs the county has ever seen, accumulating over 5,000 rushing yards during his career and was also a member of the state championship basketball team that went 29-1 in the 1999-2000 school year.

Isaiah recently sat down with The Chronicle to talk about his hall of fame induction and his life after his stellar high school career.

Question: What were the emotions you were going through at the banquet and what type of memories did it bring back for you?

Answer: Man, I am not even going to lie to you, it was crazy, and I am still processing. Obviously being in the hall of fame is a big deal. It’s one of those things, until you get there, you really don’t know what you are going to think or what you are going to feel. I think for me because I don’t live in Winston-Salem, I don’t get to see a lot of people that helped raise me, and not just me but all the people I grew up with.

So, I got to see a lot of people that, not necessarily from my high school days, but people who were like my first basketball coach. I saw guys in the hall of fame that I haven’t seen since I was a kid and didn’t even know they were in there. It was just so many different people that were a part of my life and childhood there and it was a humbling experience to see so many people I remember growing up.  

Just to see all of those different things, it just brought back so many memories. It was like one of those things, to be honest with you I’m still trying to process, that reminds you of the great place that I grew up in.

Question: You were able to accomplish a lot at Parkland. When you stepped foot on campus as a freshman, did you envision you would leave this big of a legacy and impact at the school?

Answer: I never really thought about it. I am from the southside and I grew up in Hemingway. I am a Parkland guy and I grew up playing for the Tiny Indians. My older brother went to Parkland and he was a part of arguably one of the better teams Parkland has ever had, basketball-wise. They lost in the championship game and lost to Reidsville on like a last second shot. My team, we went to state and we won state, so it was so many different people before me when I was coming up. When I finally got to Parkland, I was just so excited to be a part of their tradition. My brother, who I’ve always looked up to, and all of his friends and the guys he played with. 

When you start knowing about all of those guys and those guys from the neighborhood that were like my big brothers, being a part of that tradition, I was just so consumed with that. Then the guys that were there when I got to high school, they kind of like had expectations and looked out for me. I never really had the chance to think about it as much until I got caught up in trying to be a really good player in a great place.

We had so much talent in the city at that time. It was just like you had to hold your own. You had guys at Mt. Tabor, you had guys at Carver, you had guys at Reynolds, you had guys at North, you had guys at East, man you had to compete every day just to be on that level. I was just fortunate to just have so much talented competition around me, it kind of just brought the best out of me.

Question: When you look back at some of the numbers you put up, does it seem unreal that you were able to do so well against talented competition.

Answer: When I look at it now it’s kind of crazy. That stuff is from high school and I am coaching my own kids now. Every now and then guys have debates about who the best players were, but the coolest thing about this week, to be honest with you, was just the guys I played with, against, and the kids I grew up with, they say things on Facebook and everybody has an experience or story from playing with you and have a perspective on the type of player you were.  

That was just as impactful as being inducted because the respect of your peers is everything for me. I had so much respect for the guys I was playing against at other schools, so when I think about what I was able to do in such a talented area, sometimes I’m kind of like, wow.  So, when you say I rushed for over 5,000, it’s like I was out there doing it and getting it. Every now and then when I hear it and look over it now, it’s like I did a lot. But in the process of doing it and the people that I was able to do it with that helped me get there, it just kind of keeps you from thinking about it until it pops in your head. The numbers are kind of crazy when you think about it every now and then.

Question: Do you feel playing at a high level allows you to better relate to the kids you are now coaching?

Answer: I think that being able to play gave me the opportunity to go to UVA and play at Virginia and play arena football for several years. And then use those experiences that I’ve had as a player, not just the great things that I’ve experienced, but some of the difficult things that I had to endure in college and in professional trials. Those things are what pretty much shape how I approach my life and how I try to teach the young men I come in contact with every day.

Question: You were also very good at basketball. What was your favorite sport, football or basketball?

Answer: Growing up, everybody hooped. That’s what we did, we shot ball, so I grew up in the Boys Club. Every day we played basketball. Football was really something that I loved to do because I was aggressive, so it was a natural thing. I didn’t really fall in love in terms of this is what I do until I realized my sophomore year that this was going to be my best opportunity to go to the Division I level.  

Basketball has always been my first love, but you realize what your meat and potatoes is going to be. Growing up that’s what I loved to do. In that time when I was playing in high school and that team I was playing on was so competitive, I wanted to give myself the best option to do what I wanted to do. Basketball is what I love. I am envious now that those kids get to play high school basketball because that was some of the most fun times I have ever had.

Question: Now that you have been elected into the hall of fame, what type of feelings does that give you knowing you are among the best of the best the city has ever seen in all sports?

Answer: Being honest, the humble side of me is obviously humble and ecstatic about it. The competitive side of me is kind of proud and not just for myself, but for my name and my family. My father and my brother, who I’ve always looked up to, being able to say my son or my brother was as good as a player that has played at Parkland and maybe perhaps in the history of the city.

I have three nephews that live in Charlotte and when they come home to Winston, they can always know their family name is etched in stone, in terms of history, in the city of Winston-Salem. I am big on history and respect for those that came before you, so for me to be able to be in that same conversation at least is a tremendous thing to think about and something that I will never forget.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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