49ers safety Brown honored with key to city of NJ hometown

49ers safety Brown honored with key to city of NJ hometown originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The 49ers fell short in Super Bowl LVIII, but safety Ji’Ayir Brown still left his rookie season with some prestigious hardware.

Brown — selected by the 49ers in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft — received a key to the city from his hometown of Trenton, N.J.

“What truly sets Ji’Ayir apart is not just his athletic prowess but his unwavering commitment to giving back to this city,” Mayor Reed Gusciora told the crowd on hand for Brown’s ceremony. “Despite reaching the pinnacles of success, he has remained rooted in his hometown, returning each summer to impart his knowledge and passion for the game to the next generation of TCHS football players.” (h/t The Trentonian)

Brown attended Trenton Central High School, starring on both the school’s football and basketball teams.

From his humble beginnings in New Jersey to recording an interception of three-time Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes on the NFL’s biggest stage, Brown’s mindset hasn’t wavered.

“A lot of people say I never get fazed about the things I’ve gone through or anything that may have occurred in my life because my grandfather used to say somebody is doing better, somebody is doing worse,” Brown told the crowd. “I always kept that close to me because I went through a lot of trials and tribulations, but at the end of the day, there was always somebody doing better and somebody doing worse. When you live by that, you are rarely fazed by anything outside of what your common goal is.”

Brown’s pop warner coach Terrance Stokes revealed how Brown’s journey has changed the way he views his former player.

“It’s really surreal,” Stokes told The Trentonian. “To think that one of our participants that very first year is not only an NFL player but actually played in a Super Bowl. What a great young man. He’s no longer Tig to me, he’s Mr. Brown.”

Stokes isn’t the only coach keeping tabs on his former pupil, with Brown’s high school coach Greg Hyslop sharing how exciting it’s been to see the growth from a player he used to mentor.

“Each chapter in Ji’Ayir’s story gets more and more exciting,” Hyslop told The Trentonian. “Last week I was talking to him about his first interception against Wisconsin — a normal Big Ten game on a Saturday — and how I jumped through the roof. Two years later, he’s on the Rose Bowl stage, accepting the MVP award. And one year after that, he’s playing in a Super Bowl intercepting Patrick Mahomes.”

Brown appeared in 15 regular-season games as a rookie during the 2023 NFL season, recording two interceptions and four passes defended.

The 24-year-old was leaned on heavily as a rookie, starting a Super Bowl in his inaugural NFL campaign.

While Brown’s future with the 49ers remains bright, the Trenton native can always hold his head high, knowing he has made his hometown proud.

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