Maya Brady continues her family’s sporting legacy

OKLAHOMA CITY — Maya Brady was on the bus to her first Women’s College World Series three years ago when the UCLA shortstop noticed her mother, Maureen, had slipped her a handwritten note.

Soak up this moment, it reads – you will remember it for the rest of your life.

“That was the first time I realized how special it was that we got to play on the same field,” said Maya, who remembers bawling in the back of the bus. “It was so special. One of my favorite memories with me and my mom.”

Long before Maya’s uncle Tom Brady won seven Super Bowls to become the greatest quarterback in NFL history, Tom’s older sister Maureen was THE star athlete of the Brady family.

During four years at Hillsdale High School (San Mateo, CA), Maureen went 116-9. She pitched 69 shutouts, 29 no-hitters, and 14 perfect games during her high school career. She graduated in 1991 and was inducted into her high school’s Hall of Fame in 2018.

Maureen then played for Fresno State from 1992-1995 and led the Bulldogs to the WCWS twice.

In 1994, she became an All-American and finished the year with a 0.98 ERA. She led the nation with 36 wins and powered Fresno State to Oklahoma City. There, she defeated UCLA in the WCWS opener with a complete shutout, as Fresno State scored the winning run in the final inning to claim the victory. The Bulldogs, however, did not score another point that season and were eliminated two games later.

Today, Maya continues the Brady family’s tradition of athletic excellence. She ranks second all-time at UCLA with 71 career home runs. She is also a three-time All-American and consecutive Pac-12 Player of the Year. Maya hit a team-best .436 with 17 homers in his final season with the Bruins.

“It’s an honor to continue the legacy of the Brady name,” Maya said. “My family is everything to me.”

Maya will look to continue that legacy by leading the fourth-seeded Bruins into Sunday’s playoff game against eighth-seeded Stanford (7 p.m. ET on ESPN2/ESPN+).

“I’m so happy for Maya that she gets to have the same experience,” Maureen told ESPN. “I remember playing on that field and how it felt, and so I’m so thankful and grateful that she could have those same feelings and those same memories and the same experience. … Because it is something you never forget.

Maya can’t forget how her mother helped her get to this point. Maureen raised Maya and her younger sister, Hannah — who will soon be heading to Tom’s alma mater in Michigan to play volleyball — as a single mother.

Even though she worked as a traveling nurse, Maureen ensured that her daughters had the same sporting opportunities that she, Tom and their sisters Nancy and Julie grew up with. Nancy played softball for Cal. Julie played football at Saint Mary’s – and later married Boston Red Sox champion first baseman Kevin Youkilis, adding even more athletic prowess to the family.

“I fell in love with softball when I was 5 years old,” Maureen said. “I just wanted to play softball all the time. … Maya was the same.”

Maya started playing softball earlier than her mother, at age 4. As Maya grew up, Maureen would drive her more than three hours on weekends to softball games and tournaments.

“She made a lot of sacrifices and probably stretched herself too thin sometimes,” Maya said. “But she really made my life and my sister’s life better…and she didn’t have to make those sacrifices.”

Those sacrifices paid off for Maya, who developed her own Brady brand, one of the biggest names in softball. It has entered into name, image and likeness agreements with American Eagle, Champion and Dove, as well as several other companies.

After college, Maya wants to continue competing. She hopes to further follow in her mother’s footsteps and play for the U.S. softball team in the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles; Before enrolling at Fresno State, Maureen played for the 1991 U.S. Junior Olympic team.

“Sports is a big part of our family and we are all very competitive,” Maya said. “It brings us so much joy. Off the field we are all very kind and lovely people. Once on the field it feeds our other side which is super competitive.”

With her lofty goals, Maya admitted that carrying the Brady last name came with immense expectations and immense attention. But Tom – who she considers a “father figure” – helped her embrace it all.

“I have an incredible relationship with my uncle,” she said. “And I think it takes that pressure off because I know that at the end of the day, if I don’t meet the standards of what people think I should do, he doesn’t care. For me, it’s everything that matters.”

Tom made the Brady name famous. But Maureen launched Brady’s athletic legacy. Three decades later, his daughter can add even more.

“I’m so proud and happy for her,” Maureen said. “Winning the national championship with this team would absolutely be icing on the cake.”

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