By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com
If you’ve watched college football or basketball on FOX in recent seasons, or even watched some Premier Boxing Championship fights on Showtime Championship Boxing, you’ve heard the passion and exuberance of one of the busiest men in sports. The Emmy Award-Winning Brian Custer has been a sports broadcaster for over 14 years now. Brian also finds time to work as a commentator for CBS on their coverage of the BIG 3, in addition to hosting an NBA Show on Sirius XM Radio.
I recently had the opportunity to discuss Brian’s journey in sports, as a motivational speaker, his bout with Prostate Cancer along with the purpose of his new podcast, Last Stand. This article will summarize our introspective discussion.
The Columbus, Ohio native is a self-proclaimed “mommas’ boy,” largely as a result of losing his father in a horrific car accident, while his mother carried him before his birth. Brian openly says, ”I didn’t really figure out that I didn’t have one until… I was like 5 or 6 when kids would tease me about it saying, ‘“You don’t have a daddy.”’
When asked about the impact of growing up without a father, Brian shared, “I had strong people who raised me: my grandmother and my mother. They were both Christian, and always made sure my brother and I, A) Had a spiritual side to us, and B) be proud of who we were.” He explained that he was taught to, ”make sure you treat people with respect.” ”When you have females raising you,” he continued, ”You have great respect for women, and they make sure you are raised to be a good man. No matter what happens to you, be proud of who you are, and know you can accomplish anything that you want to accomplish. I think those are the key values that my mother, my grandmother, and my (new) father, have given me.”
Having played multiple sports growing up, Brian like many others, “had dreams of being in the NBA,” adding that “he loved television as well.” Interestingly enough, Custer admits to being a big fan of Nightline in middle school, which gave him the desire to combine both industries. He explained, “I knew when I was younger, whether it was Junior High or High School, I was going to be a sports broadcaster. I was one of the kids that was always focused, so I knew this was going to be part of my life.”
With regards to his motivational speaking, Custer, a Hampton University alum, and a lifetime member of Kappa Alpha Psi, shared a touching quote, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you realize why you were born!” Having admittedly gone through “some really extenuating circumstances that have made me who I am today,” he said, ”I think that I like to share those types of things with people.”
Aside from being a living inspiration himself, I was very interested to know from Brian how he incorporated motivational speaking into Sports Broadcasting. “I think it really goes hand in hand…, “he said. ”When I’m not on the road, I’ve always loved to give a good message to inspire someone. I just love
sharing my message, and a lot of times when you’re doing sports, it’s the same thing. You’re sharing a message, whether it’s a game, or it’s about a player… it really goes hand in hand.”
When asked which sport he has the most fun with as a commentator, Brian told me, “Whatever sport is in season!” If you are familiar with his work, you’ll know that he has many options to choose from. As he continued to say, “I’m feigning now because we usually would’ve just wrapped basketball season. Lately, I’ve been doing BIG 3 in the summer for Ice Cube’s league. While getting ready to gear up for college football. So, for me, its whatever sport is in season, that’s the one I’m fully enthralled in. Luckily for me, boxing is every month.”
Understanding that Brian is very confident in his knowledge and abilities, I wanted to know what he would consider his “ah-ha” moment in broadcast sports. “Hosting and covering Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, and Mayweather vs. MacGregor, on Showtime Pay Per View, may have been the oddest of events because all of a sudden, so many people were watching, and it was like you were trending,” he recalls. “You were trending on different things, whether it was on social media or Facebook. Suddenly, people were contacting you who you went to elementary school… and high school with.”
I then asked Custer, what has been the most exciting event you’ve covered? He, without hesitation, said, “Mayweather vs Pacquiao would be #1, and Mayweather vs MacGregor #2.” He did expound on that by saying, “Mostly, Mayweather vs MacGregor because it was so out there. That one had me shaking my head a little bit because I was just doing my job. But then all of a sudden, that was the first time my voicemail was full.”
Growing up in the 1970s, and being infatuated with Bruce Lee, Brian decided to fulfill a lifetime desire to do Martial Arts training. Though it took about 30 years, he finally walked into a Tae Kwon Do studio, and loved the training, just as he expected. “The first day I loved and the instructor was great. He talked about (how) it’s an art; it’s the way you live, and it’s going to teach you not only the self-defense part, but a way of living, and how to be so strong mentally.”
Brian shared more on the virtues of Martial Arts by saying, “that’s really what Martial Arts is about. It’s not being more physical than someone else, but you’re mentally tougher than someone else. I just loved it; I ate it up… The journey to become a Black Belt, it took a good 5 years to become a black belt. Then, you just want more, and another couple of years to get the 2nd Degree.”
After being diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in July 2013, Custer told fellow Sports Broadcaster, Scott Ferrell that he was “shocked, surprised and embarrassed” upon receiving the diagnosis. He had his prostate removed in August 2013, then endured 39 radiation treatments, the last one in March of 2018.
I was curious about how much Brian attributed his Tae Kwon Do training to his overcoming Prostate Cancer? He told me, “It goes hand in hand. When I got diagnosed, I was 42. I was strong, tough, and in the best shape of my life. You get that surgery, they cut six spots in your stomach. For a lot of guys, it takes months upon months to recover from that, and I think I had surgery, in August, and I was back at work at the very beginning of September. As opposed to someone that really recovers after 3 or 4 months. I think I was back to work in about three weeks.”
He followed that up by saying, ”I wouldn’t recommend that to anybody. One of the reasons why is because I was in phenomenal shape from Martial Arts. A lot of abs, and a lot of pushups, so my core was really strong.” He continued to tell me about a visit he received from his Martial Arts trainer who told him, “You’re a Martial Artist, you’re tougher than anybody.” He continued to say, “It’s here in your mind, he was right. Doing those little things every other day snapped my body back into shape. It helped me from a mental aspect too. I wasn’t going to let this thing beat me; anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer knows it’s more mental than physical. It’s the mental that would bring you down quicker. You have to fight that, and that’s probably the reason I recovered so quickly.”
I wanted to ask this Emmy Winning Broadcaster what was the best advice he has received. He eloquently stated, “Never say, I can’t, and never say something is overwhelming! Make sure to surround yourself with people who are strong where you are weak!”
Knowing that Brian has a lot on his plate, I was also interested in understanding his motivation to create his Last Stand podcast. He explained, “This is what I call a labor of love. Once the pandemic hit, I found this was the best opportunity to bring this labor of love to fruition. I wanted to make sure we [give our audience] unfiltered, straight talk, great stories, and yet people come away with something. Everyone keeps saying, Joe Rogan is the Podcast king, maybe I’ll become the black Joe Rogan.”
Custer’s Last Stand Podcast came out the gates strong with guests like future NFL Hall of Famer Donovan McNabb, then Hip Hop and Movie mogul Ice Cube. He’s got more exciting guests on deck including Dusty Baker, the new Manager of the Houston Astros, which drops next week; (Welterweight Champion) Errol Spence Jr, and Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright the following weeks. Then we can expect comedian Michael Blackson, and Terrence Bud Crawford.
Lastly, I asked Brian what’s the best example you’ve seen of someone paying it forward? He shared with me a thoughtful story that happened within his own home. “I haven’t been paid in 3 months. We were watching church not too long ago and my wife went right upstairs and came back downstairs with a $1,000 check and sent it to the church.” In a note to the pastor she wrote, ‘”Aside from the offering, this is for COVID Relief, give it to somebody in need.”’
It was a pleasure to learn about Brian’s past, his passion for life, and his work, through our discussion. Be sure to tune into his new podcast, Last Stand, for more great dialogue on sports and life. You can also hear our complete conversation by clicking here.
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