The name Brittany Favre-Mallion will be familiar to some, particularly hardcore Packers fans. She is one of the daughters of future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre. Recently, she did something that demonstrated the same mental toughness that made her father a legend.
Favre-Mallion graduated from Loyola University's College of Law last month. Graduating from law school is difficult enough, but Favre-Mallion did it while raising two kids. It's a stunning achievement.
Favre-Mallion agreed to an interview with Bleacher Report, and what followed was one of the most interesting and honest interviews I've ever done. It's clear that while Favre-Mallion obviously adores her father, she is no longer the little girl tugging on her dad's Packers jersey. She has become a brilliant and independent woman who survived the spotlight of being the daughter of a celebrity. This is not an easy thing.
The questions and answers are below. One thing I noticed is that Favre-Mallion delivers the same kind of frank introspection that her father often does in his interviews.
Bleacher Report: What made you want to go to law school?
Favre-Mallion: I've wanted to be a lawyer since I was a kid. I looked at successful lawyers the same way aspiring athletes look at my dad. Naturally, I've changed paths a few times, but it was more to do with my level of self-confidence and less to do with my dream of becoming a lawyer. I had a little too much fun my first two years of college, so I didn't think getting accepted to law school would be an option.
I was a little...distracted then, and that's as reverently as I can explain the beginning of my undergraduate career. My first son was born in 2010, and he changed everything. It wasn't just my future that I had to think about, and that's not an easy transition for a 21-year-old.
I realized that before Parker was born, I was selfish. Really selfish. Parker became my world and my motivation, and when I realized his future was in my hands, all I wanted to do was give him everything. I also knew that giving him everything was only possible if he had a confident and successful mom.
I wanted to be proud of myself, and I wanted him to be proud of me. He's not quite there yet; he's mostly into superheroes, secret agents and wishes I could've gone to Hogwarts instead. (He's not alone with that one.) I think he will appreciate my career choice when he's a little older.
B/R: What kind of law are you considering specializing in?
Favre-Mallion: I've bounced around with exactly where I want to practice. I've spent a long time trying to create something that is mine that I've earned, and something distinct from my dad's career.
Even though I actively tried to find something (anything) else that I'm passionate about, I'm considering sports and entertainment law. The business of sports is what I know. From the day I was born, to not long before I started law school, I've observed and absorbed football in every aspect. Although my dad's profession was unique, it's not unlike the child of a famous criminal defense attorney following in the family business.
I'm studying for the bar exam now and will be joining a firm here in Hattiesburg (Mississippi) in the fall. The firm is basically just starting, which is what drew me there in the first place. I want to build something, and I've learned that when you commit your life to building something, you leave very little time to causes you aren't passionate about. Somewhere along that journey is where I'll find my passion. Until then, I'm just trying to survive the bar exam.
B/R: How did your dad react when you told him your law school plans?
Favre-Mallion: My parents knew that I've wanted to be a lawyer since I was a kid. They let me take this several-year, roundabout way of getting to where I am, and I'm thankful for that. Now that I have two boys of my own, I know it was difficult for them to watch as I made mistakes. It was a huge relief for Mom and Dad when I finally had an honest conversation with myself about where I want to be.
Mom's dream was for me to be self-sufficient. She wants me to be financially independent, but mostly she just wants me to have something that I've earned, that no one can take away from me. Dad has always had faith in me, even when I wasn't doing things the way I should have. I think it's because he's had a lot of personal struggles over the years, and those experiences have given him a different perspective on the journey people go through to figure out exactly who they are.
He wasn't surprised that I decided to go to law school. My parents have done everything in their power to make this process easier for me, and I swear to them all the time that I'll find some way to repay them. They always tell me the only repayment they'll accept is being able to watch me succeed and be at peace with who I am.
B/R: How much were you around the Packers growing up?
Favre-Mallion: It's hard to explain just how meaningful it was growing up within the Packers organization. Obviously my childhood was unique. My dad was playing football when I was born, and my first son watched his final season. Football has been my life, and most of it was in Green Bay.
I remember getting breakfast at the stadium before Dad dropped me off at school. When I was younger, we had players and coaches and their families over all the time. I loved sitting and listening to their stories, hearing them tell jokes, doing impressions of each other and talking about locker room pranks. Those were happy times. People that we were close to slowly started moving away, or moving on, and that's what made that lifestyle difficult for me. We grew close to families, then in a matter of days, they've moved across the country with their next team.
I look back on it now and wish that I had done more to take it all in, but I think that what made it so special was that it wasn't some mesmerizing experience. It was comfortable. It was normal for me to walk into the training room in the evenings with Dad, grab a handful of the gum they always kept on the counter and wander around the facilities. It didn't seem like a worthwhile story to tell my friends that I ran around the hallways of one of the most famous stadiums in the country, because it was another home.
Very few people know this story, and I'm not even sure that Dad knows, but one night when I was really young, I thought I accidentally burned down the stadium. We were there for Dad's treatment, and of course I decided to explore. I found a pack of popcorn, put it in the microwave, and wandered off with one of the other kids there that night. Later, we both smelled smoke, and I just felt this ultimate feeling of dread sink in.
I pretty much just froze, thinking, "My dad is going to kill me. I have to run away. This is it, I'm on my own now." When I got closer, I saw smoke all the way down the hallway, and the microwave was still going. I ran over to the microwave, popped the door open, and smoke just billowed out. Naturally, as any kid would do, I left the scene of the crime just as it was, slammed the door to the smoky room, and sat quietly until my dad was ready to go.
Thankfully, the stadium still stands, and if anyone reading this had to deal with the burnt popcorn I so quickly abandoned, I'm sorry.
B/R: What lessons did you learn watching your father? Did any of those lessons help you in law school?
Favre-Mallion: The most important lesson I learned from my dad is that at the end of the day, you just have to put in the work. There's really no way around it. Money can get you to a point, fame can get you a little further, but no one is going to pay me if I can't do my job well. Connections are a foot in the door, but I have to keep the door open.
I remember one day during the offseason, I was in high school, and Dad woke me up on a Saturday morning at some ungodly hour. He said, "Get up. Let's go for a run." I told him he was out of his mind if he thought I was going to get up for a run. I didn't even open my eyes and told him, "I don't want to go for a run today." He responded, "I don't want to go for a run today, either. But you know those guys that'll be chasing me around on the field in a few months? They're running today."
I'll never forget that. At that point, he was already successful, held records, had fame, money and all that comes with being an exceptional athlete. He didn't start there, though; not even close. I forget that a lot. I've caught myself saying things like, "You wouldn't understand," or "We can't all be famous athletes."
It's funny, because he had no reason to believe he could be a record-breaking quarterback. He just wanted to be great, and he was willing to put in the work. Just because I decided to go to law school didn't mean I was going to pop into a courtroom three years later in a suit and just be a lawyer. It all comes down to the work.
My parents also taught me a lot about balance. They pushed me when I needed it, but they also told me to slow down when I needed it. I have a husband and two beautiful boys. Success is great, but if it comes at the expense of my family, it means nothing.
My family knows the price we've had to pay for success, and it hasn't always been happy or easy. My parents had no reference for how to handle balancing new success with family stability, so I'm lucky that I've been able to use their experience in my own home. I've learned that "building a career" is not a healthy mindset. I have to build a life. I'm happy with the outcome so far, but I know I have a lot to learn.
B/R: What is your favorite law school story?
Favre-Mallion: I don't really have a favorite story, but I did experience several defining moments during law school. I went through a painful divorce the winter before I started school. It took almost a year-and-a-half, and that was my rock bottom.
About five months after I thought my life had fallen apart, I met Alex [her husband]. He's the reason I didn't quit after my first year. My school was just under two hours from home, so I would stay in New Orleans a few nights during the week to go to class and study. I would go through these phases where I just felt lonely and selfish for leaving Parker, and Alex had a way of calming me and helping me remember the purpose of this struggle. I married Alex my second year. My third year, we had a baby boy, AJ.
I went into law school a terribly broken person, and I came out with a family, stronger than I've ever been. The experience was so much more than just earning a law degree. I had to change, to grow up, and to stop feeling sorry for myself when I felt overwhelmed or when things didn't go my way. I had too many people counting on me and too many people supporting me (like my beautiful "Maw Maw," who helped with the boys every time I needed her) to let everyone down.
B/R: What is your favorite dad story?
Favre-Mallion: Dad is one of the funniest people I've ever met, and not always what people expect. My husband is British and didn't really follow American football until recently. It's hard for him to believe that his father-in-law was a celebrity athlete at one point. There's nothing glamorous about our daily lives.
When I was in middle school, Dad had this white Chevy truck that he loved. One day the muffler fell off and was dragging on the ground behind the truck. Instead of having it fixed by a professional, my dad chained it to his bumper. He was pretty proud of his craftsmanship. Dad drove me to school the next morning, and all of my classmates were waiting near the carpool line for the morning bell.
As we went over each of the several speed bumps in the car line, sparks spewed from behind the truck, and the muffler made this horrible scraping, clanking sound. It felt like an eternity before we reached the drop-off. Middle school was already terribly awkward for me; I just did my best to blend in as much as possible. Everyone turning to look at the commotion was pretty horrifying. Dad really couldn't understand why I should be embarrassed.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.