RENO, NV (KOLO) _ Football gave Mike Bradeson a good life.
Photo: Nevada Athletics
He was a member of Boise State's only-ever National Championship team, then went on to coach countless star athletes and squads.
But for all the success, for him it seemed to never be about the game.
"These coaches have an obligation to be like a second father to these men," said Zack Madonick, former Wolf Pack defensive lineman and current Associate Athletic Director. "Mike took that on, that was his thing. He was a dad to these men."
Coach Bradeson passed away this week after a lengthy battle with cancer, leaving a legacy of authentic and caring mentorship.
"He was just a real dude. That's why it hit the Reno community so hard," said former Wolf Pack safety Duke Williams. "He was a guy who gave you his heart."
Especially for Duke Williams, the former Hug hHgh star who was arrested four times during his Wolf Pack career. Drives to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, in-person wake up calls ... coach did it all.
"Guys would come like, 'you're Coach Brad's baby,'" said Williams.
"He talked about real life. He talked about growing up. Growing up and maturing and making that next step. It's different. It's hard to explain his role in what he played in a lot of players' lives."
A love felt and shared by so many past players and colleagues, both at Nevada and UNLV, where Bradeson's 14 years is still the school's longest tenure. A unique run which included 11 seasons at Nevada.
"The UNLV players, after we played that game. The way they would flock to him after the game. It was remarkable," said Madonick. "You just got done playing a rivalry game. Your coach left you to be the coach of your rival school. The love that these kids had for him, even after that, was so special and unique to him."
A one-of-a-kind coach and man, whose life's work lives on through so many.
"That's what I'll remember so fondly about Coach Brad," said Madonick. "Everyone who came in contact with that man, felt special."
"I just feel for April and Drew," said Williams. "The Wolf Pack community took a major loss with Coach Brad's passing."
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