Adoptions With Love Blog

A Superbowl Story: San Francisco 49er Dre Greenlaw’s Adoption

Super Bowl Sunday is always a big deal. Between the entertainment and the commercial breaks, big viewership is always a safe bet. Super Bowl LVIII will be no different. The San Francisco 49ers are set to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Las Vegas on February 11, 2024. One of San Franscisco’s star players, Ke’Aundre J’Quan “Dre” Greenlaw, may have his own set of devoted fans: The adoption community. The 49ers Linebacker is a star on the field. Off the field, he is big brother to two sisters who he met as a teenager, prior to being adopted at the age of 21. This is Dre Greenlaw’s adoption story.

A Chance Encounter

While many adoptions happen at an early age, this is an adoption story that takes place later in life. At a private adoption agency like Adoptions With Love, most children are adopted in the infancy stage. If you are interested in learning more about adopting a baby, click here.

Dre Greenlaw was an eighth grader playing football when he got the chance to visit his town’s high school football field. He met the coach, Brian Early, who was immediately intrigued by the young athlete.

“I was really impressed with the way that he carried himself,” the then-football coach remembered in an interview. “Just the type of kid that he was, I thought there was something special about him.”

Brian and his wife, Nanci, soon learned that Dre was living in a foster home and had been since the age of eight. Brian felt compelled to mentor young Dre. Brian, Nanci, and their two young daughters would start spending time with Dre on the weekends.

After getting to know Dre, the Early family learned that the foster home would soon be closing. The Earlys were asked if they would let Dre live with them.

“We probably would have been fine just mentoring him, and picking him up on Sundays,” Nanci said of the decision. “When that foster home closed down, it was a real message to us from God that said what you’re doing is great, but it’s not enough.”

“He needs a family, he needs a home, so we just kind of made that decision.”

Brian and Nanci had their hesitations about taking in a teenage boy with two little girls at home, but eventually, Dre became a part of the family.

“They made me realize what it means to be a brother,” Greenlaw said. “The examples that I got to set for them, and how I got to treat other people, girls or whatever it may be.”

“They definitely won my heart.”

“He’s amazing with them,” Nanci said about Dre’s relationship with his sisters. “That’s probably the coolest part of the whole situation, is we got to give them a big brother.”

Making Big Moves

After dominating high school football, Dre played for University of Arkansas, where he attended on a scholarship.

During his senior year with the Razorbacks, Dre made a life-changing decision. He made the Early family his official, forever family.

“I turned 21 … and so we decided that since I was 21 and old enough and mature enough to decide what I wanted to do. Because my family, technically, rights were terminated from me, so I decided to make them my official mom and dad. They were mom and dad anyways, but this makes it some type of commitment,” Dre said at SEC Media Days in 2018.

After his fourth season with Arkansas, Dre was selected by the 49ers as a fifth-round selection in the 2019 NFL draft.

Family is Everything

Despite his fame and career success, he remains deeply humble and thankful for his adoptive family.

“[There are] really no words that can tell them how much that means to me,” Greenlaw said.

Likewise, the Early family feels equally grateful.

“I’m humbled and overwhelmed by the fact that, I feel like God chose us for him,” Nanci said. “We get to be a part of this amazing story, this kid who has just gone on to do and will do amazing things. It’s just pretty cool to be a part of that.”

Adoption is a Positive Choice

Dre Greenlaw’s adoption story is inspiring for everyone, whether you are an adoptee, an expectant/birth parent, or family looking to adopt. As his story proves, adoption is a positive choice at any age.

While it is not typical for an adoption to take place after the age of 18, it is possible. This is the path that sent Dre to football fame, and the 26-year-old is now an NFC champion. While it may not be the traditional childhood story – or even traditional adoption story – it is one that he and the Earlys are proud to tell.

Learn More About Adoption

If you would like to learn more about adoption, contact Adoptions With Love. Whether you are thinking about making an adoption plan for your baby or would like to adopt, we can help. We can offer you guidance and support throughout the adoption process. Call 800-722-7731, text (617) 777-0072, or contact us online.