FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Mother's Day always carries added significance for Atlanta Falcons rookie running back Brian Hill.
The fifth-round draft pick from Wyoming wouldn't have made it to the NFL if his mother hadn't persuaded him to play football as a child. Growing up in the crime-ridden city of East St. Louis, Illinois, Hill knew that his mother insisted he play football for his benefit.
Tamara Scott, a nurse and single parent of four boys and one girl, gave her sons $5 for every touchdown and sack they recorded during youth football.
"I started playing football in first grade, and I had a big game in seventh grade at the beginning of the season where I had four touchdowns and three sacks," Hill said. "And that's when she stopped [paying].
"Growing up, my Mom did everything she could to keep us out of the streets. She made us play football. She bribed us to play. She bought us video games. It was anything for us to not go outside and get with the wrong crowds. She did her part, and I did my part, as far as school and sports."
The family eventually moved from East St. Louis to the quieter city of Belleville, located 15 miles southeast. Belleville is where Hill played high school football. After not generating a ton of college interest, Hill went to Wyoming and became the Cowboys' career rushing leader with 4,287 yards -- in just three seasons.
His mother motivated him throughout his college career with a specific sacrifice. "She drove 14 hours [to] every home game in Wyoming to see me play," Hill said. "She was very dedicated. She would drive the morning of the game with my stepdad and my brothers, every home game. I'm forever grateful for her dedication."
There's one life lesson Hill learned from his mother more than any other: Be respectful.
"We couldn't just walk around saying 'yes' and 'no' to adults without being popped in the mouth," Hill said. "We always had to say 'yes, ma'am,' 'no, ma'am,' 'yes, sir,' 'no, sir.' One reason I feel like I've become the person who I am is because I've always tried to be respectful."
Hill signed a four-year rookie contract last week that includes an undisclosed signing bonus, and he has already started to spend his money wisely. "This is the first time I can get her what I really want to get her for Mother's Day," Hill said without revealing his mother's gift. "I'm excited. It's a surprise to her."