This story is about a daughter, her father, and the passion they shared for education and sports. A daughter that would eventually extend her father's life. Tecumseh Bryan Brayboy, III was a baseball player at Pembroke State College, now known as the University of North Carolina-Pembroke, in the 1960s. When Tecumseh wasn’t in class or playing baseball, he would stoke the boilers to earn money to pay for his tuition.
Tecumseh, the son of a sharecropper was one of eight siblings who worked on the family farm and in the tobacco fields in Robeson County, NC, from the time he could walk. He was the great-great-great-grandson of Issac Brayboy who was one of the original trustees during the establishment of Pembroke State College (UNC-Pembroke) in 1887. In fact it's strongly believed that Issac’s grandson, Tecumseh Brayboy Sr. who owned a saw mill near Buie, NC, provided the lumber for the construction of the historic Old Main building on the campus of UNC-Pembroke in Pembroke, NC.
The strong work ethic that Tecumseh developed in the fields carried over into the classroom and the baseball field. Not only did he become a star student-athlete at Pembroke State College, but he also graduated with a degree in Education in 1964. He was later inducted into the UNC-Pembroke Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004 and according to the their website, Brayboy was a four-year baseball standout catcher with a career fielding percentage of .985 and a .384 batting average during his junior year. No matter the era, those are some very impressive numbers.
After her graduation from Pembroke State College in 1966, Tecumseh married his college sweetheart Barbara Lynch. Shortly after their marriage, the Brayboy’s temporarily relocated to Pennsylvania so Tecumseh could attend West Chester State College, now West Chester University, where he successfully completed his Masters in Education. The Brayboy’s strong passion for education and Tecumseh’s love for sports, in particular, baseball caught the attention of their oldest daughter, Jennifer Brayboy-Locklear at an early age.
Shortly after returning to NC in 1975, Tecumseh and Barbara began their careers as lifelong educators and decided to make Warren County their permanent place of residence by having a home built there. In addition to being a lifelong educator in the Warren and Halifax Counties school systems, Tecumseh was also founding Pastor of Walnut Grove Baptist Church in the Arcola/Bethlehem community of Warren County, NC. The church was established on September 11, 1982, and services were held in the Brayboy's home until a permanent church structure was built in 1983.
In his 40s, Tecumseh developed diabetes and a heart condition which required open heart surgery. Although diet, exercise, and medication were effective for his cardio issues, those methods proved ineffective against his diabetes. In early 2007, his medical providers informed him that without a kidney transplant, he would have to start receiving dialysis treatments. Being the oldest, Jennifer volunteered to donate her kidney and after being confirmed a perfect match, the transplant procedure was performed in October 2007.
Unfortunately, in December 2009, Tecumseh passed away due to heart failure caused by having to take immunosuppressant medicines which were taken to decrease the chances of his body rejecting his donated kidney. “Even though he only lived such a short time after receiving his transplant, I will never regret my decision to donate my kidney because it gave us all extended time to be with the leader of our family,” Jennifer said.
In addition to Jennifer, the Brayboy’s have two other daughters, Heather Hedgepeth, and Natalie Brayboy and all three are proud graduates of UNC- Pembroke. After graduating from UNC-Pembroke in 1990, Jennifer followed in her parent’s path and has been a successful educator for over 22 years.
Jennifer is married to Eric Locklear who is also a UNC-Pembroke graduate and they have two children, Elan 20 and Mary Riley 9. In addition to these two, there are three other grandchildren from the lineage of Tecumseh Brayboy, III: Lydia, Andrew and Rebecca. Elan is currently a junior at UNC-Pembroke and he’s the spitting image of his grandfather. I’m sure one day all of them will have plenty of stories to share about a BRAVE baseball player and his daughter that took the game into extra innings.