The Birdville High School football team is having one of the best seasons in school history as it prepares to play in the third round of the UIL playoffs. The Hawks are being led by two players in the same backfield with different last names, but with a bond that can only be described as a brotherhood.
"Just knowing he's behind, or beside, me every play, I'm more comfortable," Birdville junior quarterback Stone Earle said. "Even on pass plays, I know he's going to block for me and do his job."
"If you fall, your brother will be there to pick you up," Birdville junior running back Laderrious Mixon said. "That's what Stone is. He won't leave me."
The bond between Mixon and Earle began in 2014. When Mixon was in seventh grade, his mother in Alabama decided to send him to live with relatives in North Texas, in hopes of a better life for her son. After a year, those relatives were no longer able to care for him, so Mixon had no choice but to return to Alabama.
That's when Mixon's mentor, and Earle's father, John Earle, a former NFL player who is currently a youth pastor in Colleyville, reached out to Mixon's mother about allowing her son to live with the Earle family.
"We talked goals and dreams," John Earle said. "She said, 'I would love that.' She wanted him to get an education and live out football dreams, and just happened like that."
And since that day in 2014, the Earles have considered Mixon one of their own.
"I feel really blessed and I thank them a lot," Mixon said. "They give me clothes, shoes, and I'm just very, very grateful and thankful for (all they've done)."
"We are the ones that are blessed,"said John's wife, Josie Earle. "Our family is bigger, we have more laughs and we are louder. It's not always easy because they're teenagers. But it's worth it. We just want to see a kid have success and have it easier in life."
Today, Mixon is one of the top junior running backs in North Texas, with a dream of one day playing in the NFL, like the man he refers to as "dad." And because of the sacrifice by the Earle family his future on and off the football field looks extremely bright.
"I've clearly became a better person and I'm not in trouble like I used to be," Mixon said. "If they hadn't taken me in -- I think about this all the time -- I wonder what I would be doing."
"People want to use The Blind Side analogy," John Earle said. "We're not The Blind Side. We are a real family. We're not doing anything heroic. We're just doing what we believe most: love God and love others."