FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots fans are still getting to know newly acquired wide receiver Brandin Cooks, and on Mother's Day weekend, it is timely to relay the most special connection in his life.
"I talk to him every night. He texts me every morning," Andrea Cooks says. "He's been doing that since college."
Brandin, 23, is the youngest of Andrea's four children, and ever since he was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2014 draft, he has devoted a significant portion of his earnings to say thank you to her.
Andrea sheds tears when discussing the new car and home Brandin purchased, among other things.
"He always used to tell me, 'Mamma, I'm going to take care of you,' even when he was little," she says. "I have four boys, and he's my baby. I always tell Brandin he's a young man but has an old soul. It's like he's been here before.
"We had some hard times, but having faith in God, in the end this is what comes out."
Some of those hard times are well documented, which Cooks highlighted early last week when asked what Mother's Day means to him.
"It means the world. A lot of what I do, where my work ethic comes from, is her. So I owe the world to her," he said with a smile during a break from the team's offseason program. "For Sunday to be Mother's Day, it's a special day for me. I lost my father when I was young. She gets her joy and happiness from her kids."
Of her bond with Brandin, Andrea explains, "It was basically me and him, because my other kids were older. When he played Pop Warner, it was me and him at games. I was pushing him, went to every game. In high school, it was just me and my boy. We have a small circle."
Cooks' father, Worth Cooks Sr., died of a heart attack when Brandin was 6. That left Andrea to raise her four boys -- Frederick (now 36), Worth Jr. (31), Andre (26) and Brandin -- by herself in Stockton, California.
"When I lost my husband, I didn't work. I didn't have a college education. I had to get out and work, and I worked at two jobs," says Andrea, who has now been with a local hat company, Dorfman Pacific, for nearly two decades.
Yet, when Andre ran into some struggles, Andrea found herself getting pulled away from work to try to help him get back on track.
"I think that was one of the toughest times, I thought I was going to lose my job, but after a while it turned around," she says. "It was hard, stressful, but at the end we made it through. I thank God that Brandin kept himself focused."
Faith has been a big part of that. When Brandin sends his daily text messages to Andrea, they will often include scriptures from the Bible. So when mother and son speak on the phone, the conversations sometimes center on those scriptures.
"He'll ask me if I read it. That's why I'm not worried about Brandin, I know he's in good hands, he has the Lord by his side," Andrea says.
Andrea and Brandin are now separated coast to coast, with Andrea still in Stockton and Brandin -- who makes his year-round residence in Oregon after a collegiate career at Oregon State -- relocating to Foxborough for the next few months, with a more extended Northeast stay starting in mid-July.
Andrea plans to visit, even though she generally tries to avoid longer plane trips.
"She's excited to come and see another part of the country that she never saw before," Brandin said. "That's where she gets her joy from. I mean, she obviously loves that I play the game, but she gets to go places that she always dreamed of, and now her son can take her places. That's what she's excited about, to come see the history in Boston."
As for Sunday, mother and youngest son will do what they do every day: They'll talk. Andrea will be returning home from Las Vegas, where Brandin treated her to a trip to see the show "Michael Jackson ONE," and she plans to go to church and spend time with her grandchildren before getting ready for work the next morning.
Meanwhile, Brandin is committed to being in Foxborough as offseason workouts continue on Monday.
"It's unfortunate that I won't be able to be there this weekend, but she knows that I'll be there and I'll see her down the road," he said.
Andrea says the best gift of all is spending time with Brandin, which she knows isn't far away from happening.
"I'm so proud of him. His mamma loves him so much," she says. "And misses him."