Legendary basketball coach Mike Brown passed away in June of last year. His family is making sure his memory and legacy continue.
Brown, the hall-of-fame coach who once led the Albuquerque Academy boys to six straight state championships, died on June 30 from multiple system atrophy (MSA).
In December, his family announced the “Mike Papa Brown MSA Scholarship Fund.”
The scholarship fund is truly a family affair.
Brown’s daughter Shawn is the president and treasurer, his wife Carol is the vice president, his son Greg — the head coach of the boys basketball team at Volcano Vista — is the executive director, and Greg’s brother Danny, who coaches boys basketball at Sandia High School and is a former head coach at Highland, is the chief operating officer.
Shawn Brown said her father was instrumental in deciding the requirements for the scholarship before his death.
“ I had done some research in regards to scholarships and I, when I was able to go in there and visit with him, I presented it to him and asked him what he thought of it, and he said, ‘I think that’s great,’” Shawn Brown said. “And so we sat there and I told him I had found a scholarship management company and these are the things that we needed to, you know, certain things we needed to decide on, you know, how, how he wanted it to be, and so I kind of went through a checklist with him. And everything went through him; it’s 100% Papa.”
Mike Brown, a former English teacher, decided he wanted it to be strictly for senior student athletes at APS schools. Applicants must have a 3.5 GPA or higher and they must submit an essay about leadership.
The scholarship fund will award five student-athletes, with first place getting $5,000 and on down to $1,000 for fifth place.
The deadline to apply is March 22, and winners will be announced on April 1.
The Brown family will decide the winners, with friend of the family and chairperson of the fund Sean McCabe serving as a tie-breaking vote.
“This first year we wanted to see every single application,” Shawn Brown said. “We want to go through all of them as a family and decide who the winners are going to be. We’re going to take a day or two or three, and we’re all going to sit down as a family and read all those applications and come to a consensus.”
Danny Brown raised $6,000 for the fund through a charitable free throw shooting contest and presented the check to the fund before Sandia played Volcano Vista in December. Last month, the Volcano Vista girls basketball team hosted “Purple 4 Papa Night” and raised $1,200. Shawn Brown said the fund has raised enough to cover this year’s scholarships and is two-thirds of the way to reaching the goal for next year.
Mike Brown had three children and eight grandchildren. His granddaughter, Kennedy Brown, is a key senior for the undefeated Hawks. Mike Brown was very involved with the girls team, which has dedicated the season to his memory.
“Papa Brown was very instrumental in the basketball community, not only at Volcano Vista but in the state of New Mexico,” Volcano Vista girls basketball coach Lisa Villareal said. “With all of his successes and the legacy he’s left behind, he’s touched so many lives.
“He has watched Kennedy and her teammates play since they were in the third grade, and he’s been a big part of them personally. And, you know, the advice that he gave them was so instrumental in how they play today.”
Shawn Brown said she has been overwhelmed by the support the scholarship fund has received.
“The response we’ve gotten has been insane,” Brown said. “It’s been amazing with friends and family that have shown up for this. It has been tremendous. We want to honor Papa in the best way that we possibly can. He was a coach and a teacher and the best Papa in the world.”