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Self-belief, persistence paying off for 49ers Barrett

Alex Barrett aims to join Curley Culp as the only Yuma born NFL players to win a Super Bowl

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (KYMA, KECY) - Currently, there is only one NFL player that has been born in Yuma, to ever win a Super Bowl. Hall-of-famer Curley Culp won his first and only ring in 1970 as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.

54 years later, Alex Barrett, a member of the San Francisco 49ers, could become the second.

"I just got chills when you told me that," Elena Barrett, Alex's mother said. "I didn't know that."

Alex was born in Yuma on March 6, 1994 at Yuma Regional Medical Center. Alex's mother Elena grew up in Tacna.

"My dad was a farmer," Elena said. "I have one sister and together we went to antelope high school."

Alex's father Audry, grew up in Winterhaven and graduated from Yuma High School. The couple met while attending Arizona Western College.

"We did two years and then we got married, I was short a semester," Elena said.

"So that’s their love story," Alex said. "I great-grandmother lived right by a canal in Winterhaven. A trailer park farm dang near, that's where my dad grew up."

The young family bounced around from Yuma to Salinas then back to Yuma.

"Audry worked for Fresh Express so they did the lettuce season here and there so we used to travel to Salinas," Elena said.

The family then moved to San Diego before finally settling in the Chandler, Arizona area. Growing up, Alex played a lot of baseball. When he was around nine years old, his father decided to get him into Pop Warner football.

"Yeah it was my dad, he's the one who encouraged me," Alex said. "He introduced me do it. I played a lot of baseball and he coached me but he was the one that brought me into football and I love everything about it."

In order to play Pop Warner football, Alex had to make weight.

"Even though he was young, he was a very big child," Elena said. "Back then, kids were placed on teams by weight. Alex had to lose 26 pounds just to make a team and that was with the older and much bigger kids."

Alex's father was his motivation and worked with him to lose the weight.

"It was rough," Elena said. "It was rough because he liked them burritos, but he did it. He made the team."

Elena said Alex was very good at baseball but then hit a wall. Football on the other hand, saw Alex flourish.

"The motivation came from Audry and I," Elena said. "We would tell him to keep going because something was there, it’s one of those unusual things."

Alex bloomsed in high school at Desert Ridge earning First-team All-State honors twice. After high school he went to San Diego State University and became the first San Diego State defensive lineman to earn First-team All-Mountain West honors multiple times. Even with all the accolodates, his name wasn't called during the 2017 NFL draft.

It’s kept a chip on my shoulder," Alex said. "I did some really good things at San Diego State."

Alex would eventually be signed by the Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent. Just as Alex's pro career was starting to take off, his father's health started to take a hit. In 2013, Audrey had his thyroid removed due to cancer. He soon started drinking to cope with the stress and constant complications.

"Slowly as his dad was getting worse," Elena said. "It was Alex’s first year with the Detroit Lions, his dad didn't want to bother him because there was so much Alex was trying to take in with it being his first year."

In November of 2017, Audry was in the hospital back and forth. Audry passed away in May 2018 after battling liver cirrhosis, a complication of alcohol abuse.

"I think that weighs heavy on his [Alex's] mind because I don’t think he felt he had enough time," Elena said. "In those moments, you never know that it’s going to be it."

After two years with the Lions, Alex was released. He then played for the San Diego Fleet in the Alliance of American football. The league then folded but Alex would work his way back into the NFL.

"He said, 'Happy anniversary mom, I'm a Raider,'" Elena said. "When I first met Audry, he was a Raider fan."

Alex signed with the Raiders on April 5th, 2019.

"I think it was a gift because we were still grieving," Elena said. "It was a very tough time for me after being married for 25 years, that’s all I knew." 

Alex's stay with the Raiders was short. He was released later that fall but quickly was scooped up by the San Francisco 49ers.

"His option is never to been to quit," Elena said. "In his mind, there is always something greater and better. So, he’s determined to be on the roster."

During his time in the NFL, Alex has been involved to close 50 transactions ranging from being signed, released, moved to the practice squad, elevated to the active roster and dropped back down to the practice squad.

"He’s enjoying every bit of it," Elena said. "He is very happy with the 49ers and he's building his own family in the area."

Alex is also one of a handful of hispanic players in the NFL.

"I’m Mexican and African American, my mexican side is from Hermosillo," Alex said. "It’s a true honor to represent the Mexican culture, we’re very prideful, we work hard. Honestly we just work hard and stay in our lane and do our thing."

Alex was able to travel with San Francisco when the team played Arizona in Mexico City during the 2022 season.

"To represent my culture and my heritage is pretty awesome," Alex said. "My family is everything, very small family, not too big and they’ve shown love, support and appreciation for me throughout my journey."

That journey has led Alex to his second Super Bowl with San Francisco. He was a member of the team when they lost to Kansas City in Miami in 2019. Now, he and the 49ers will have another shot at a Super Bowl title. Again it will be against Kansas City.

Should San Francisco win, Alex Barrett will join Curley Culp as the lone Yuma born players to win a Super Bowl.

"If I wasn’t undrafted I don’t think I would be in the situation I’m in now," Alex said. "It’s part of my journey and I love proving people wrong."

On Saturday afternoon, one day before Super Bowl 58 in Las Vegas, Alex was activated from the practice squad to the active roster.

"I'm very proud of him," Elena said. "He's come a long way and earned a lot of respect from players and coaches. It's been one great journey."

Article Topic Follows: Top Stories
Alex Barrett
Curley Culp
Elena Barrett
San Diego State
San Francisco 49'ers
super bowl
Yuma High School

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