MINT HILL – Brianna Grant had a lot of support at Independence High School when the Patriots softball player signed her National Letter of Intent to play softball at Tennessee State on Nov. 16.
It’s been quite a journey for Brianna and her two younger sisters, McKenzie and Nadia Grant, as they went from foster care to an adoptive family over the past 15 years. As Brianna prepared to sign on the dotted line, she was surrounded by many family and friends, including her adoptive parents and the couple that cared for the girls in foster care for three years.
“It means a lot that to me that everybody is here,” Brianna said. “They are all definitely family and they helped me make me whom I am today.”
When Brianna was just 3, she and her sisters were wards of the state when they were put in foster care. That care was provided by Larry and Liz Donald, who live in south Charlotte. They took care of the girls for three years when Julius and Pamela Grant entered the lives.
The Grants were looking to adopt, but when they started the process, they were looking to adopt just one child. Those plans quickly changed.
“We were not expecting to get three,” Julius Grant said. “We were originally looking for one. We met the girls and we hit it off from the beginning. It was a no-brainer. I’m not going to say there were times the first few months where we did not say, ‘what did we get ourselves into.’ But it has been fantastic and it has been a great joy seeing them grow up to become young women.”
The Donalds have spent many hours on the softball diamond watching Brianna and they have also been equally supportive of her two sisters, one who also plays softball while the other is in the band.
Julius Grant said he and his wife are blessed that the Donalds have remained a part of their daughter’s lives.
“It was vitally important,” Julius Grant said. “I don’t think we could have gone through the process without Larry and Liz. They have done a lot in the girls’ lives. They are an integral part of their lives. Without them, I don’t think our daughters would be the young ladies that they are. They are grandparents, parents, friends, all of that wrapped up into one. It was an easy transition because they made it that much easier.”
The Grants beamed with joy as they sat next to Brianna when she made her commitment to play softball at Tennessee State. Julius Grant coached his daughter the first two years after she started playing the game at age seven.
“We are excited, Bri is excited, and I think Tennessee State is excited,” Julius Grant said. “We are looking forward to her next stage. She has always excelled at softball.”
Larry Donald said he was impressed with Tennessee State when they first started recruiting Brianna as a freshman.
“That was overwhelming for all us when they expressed interest when she was just a freshman,” Larry Donald said.
Independence softball coach Amanda Larry first met Brianna when she came out to a Patriots’ practice when she was still in the eighth grade. Brianna batted .400 with 28 RBIs as a junior after batting .438 and .369, respectively as a sophomore and freshman.
“Grant has been a skilled player since she came to Independence High School,” Larry said. “She has been a consistent starter for me the last three years and she will be again this year. She is one of our most dominate hitters and she has led the team in batting the last three years. She is a well-balanced student-athlete. I’m super excited she has this opportunity and I am super excited for her future.”
Julius Grant said Larry Donald has also played a key role in Brianna’s life.
“Her coach has played a very important role as coach, mentor and friend,” Julius Grant said. “It takes a nation to raise our kids and we feel we have that in family support.”
Brianna said she fell in love with the atmosphere at Tennessee State when she visited the Nashville campus.
“It’s just a perfect fit for me,” Brianna said. “I’m going to play in the outfield, but I would be fine playing anywhere.”