Kurt Warner’s story from working at a supermarket to becoming a Super Bowl-winning quarterback also includes an inspirational love story.
Warner is a member of the 2017 NFL Hall of Fame class, thanks to his career with the St. Louis Rams and the Arizona Cardinals. The 46-year-old Warner was famously signed by the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent, only to be cut from the team. He worked at a grocery store in Cedar Falls, Iowa, until an Arena Football League team signed him.
In 1997, the St. Louis Rams signed Warner, but it wasn’t until 1999 that he got to play consistently. He led the franchise’s “Greatest Show on Turf,” winning Super Bowl XXXIV. Warner’s Rams were back in the Super Bowl in 2002, but famously lost to the New England Patriots, who kicked off their own dynasty. Warner also experienced a career renaissance during his tenure with the Arizona Cardinals, leading them to Super Bowl XLIII in 2009.
Warner has had his wife Brenda’s support the whole way. He has been married to Brenda for 20 years. She has two children from her previous marriage and five children with Warner.
Here is what you need to know:
1. She Is a Former Marine
In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Brenda explained that she grew up in a small Iowa town. In high school, she was a cheerleader and a self-described “Jesus-Freak.” Before graduating, she decided to join the Marines instead of going to college because she didn’t want her parents stuck paying for her tuition.
While in the Marines, she met her first husband, Neil, who was also in the Marines. They married and had a son, Zack, who was born in 1989, notes Snopes. Their daughter Jesse was born three years later.
After Warner married Debbie in 1997, he adopted both of her children. The couple then had five children together – Kade, Jada Jo, Elijah, and twins Sienna and Sierra.
As The Marines website notes, Brenda left the Marines in January 1990 on a hardship discharge.
2. Her Son Zachary Is Legally Blind After Her Ex-Husband Dropped Him When He Was 4 Months Old
When Zachary was 4 months old, Brenda’s ex-husband dropped him on his head by accident. His doctor told Brenda that her son might die, but she was determined to do the best for her son. Zack is handicapped and partially blind, but he survived.
Today, Zach lives in Glendale, Arizona, and is the first resident of Treasure House, a Christian-based home for young adults with developmental disabilities.
“Many people said this was a great idea but not in my backyard, but Glendale said ‘yes!’ This is such a beautiful community,” Brenda told AZ Central. The Warners raised $3 million in funds to build the house, which opened this year.
At first, the Treasure House will house 24 adults aged 19 to 35. The monthly expenses are between $2,500 and $3,350, but the Warners set up a foundation to help families cover that cost.
“I believe it’s going to be such an incredible model on how to treat people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Brenda told AZ Central. “It will be absolutely the best thing that makes me the most proud of in life.”
3. Brenda’s Parents Were Killed in a Tornado in 1996
In 1992, Brenda and Warner met while he was still playing football at Northern Iowa. The couple married in 1997, a year after Brenda received the worst news imaginable. In 1996, her parents were killed by a tornado in Arkansas. All that was left was the foundation of their home. Even after seeing the damage, she couldn’t believe it.
“I started talking to God,” Brenda told the Christian Broadcast Network. “I know you’re big enough to stop a tornado. And I know that even if a tornado hit a house, you could still save the people inside… You could help them be alive somehow, somewhere.”
When she was taken to the morgue, she finally had to face the truth that her parents died.
A year after the tornado, Brenda and Warner married at the St. John American Lutheran Church, the same church where her parents were married. They dressed Zack and Jesse as miniature bride and groom, and they were the last to enter the church.
“She just caught my eyes,” Warner told the Christian Broadcast Network when asked what it was about Brenda that caught his interest. “There was something different about her, something that stood out. She wasn’t like all of the other women in the bar and women that I had met. There was something that stood out.”
4. She Used to Be Mistaken for Warner’s Mom With Her Short Haircut & Now Sports a Mohawk
During Warner’s Rams years, Brenda was often mistaken for Warner’s mother because of her short hair and graying sideburns. The haircut was part of the strange fashion choices she made while her husband played in St. Louis. It was part of a brash personality and her habit of calling into talk radio stations to defend her husband. But in 2009, when Warner’s career was revived in Arizona, Brenda took a different approach. That included going blonde and growing her hair out.
In an interview with the Associated Press before the 2009 Super Bowl, Brenda brushed off the importance of her new look.
“It’s just hair,” she said. “People make such a big deal about how I look, but I’ve had nothing done. The only thing that’s changed is my hair. And I have to have it colored every three weeks.”
Brenda was the target of Internet criticism, and she said she learned to avoid it. “I am more protected now. I’ve put up a few walls, and that works for my benefit, but I probably miss out on relationships because I have so many walls,” she said in 2009.
Today, Brenda sports a blonde mohawk.
5. Brenda & Warner Founded the First Things First Foundation to ‘Promote Christian Values’ & Help Those Less Fortunate
In 2001, Warner and Brenda established the First Things First Foundation. They goal is to “promote Christian values and bless the lives of those less fortunate always promoting the Warners’ life theme: Faith and family come first.” The title of their 2009 book, First Things First – The Rules for Being a Warner, came from the foundation.
During the holiday season, the foundation helped two single mothers in St. Louis furnish Habitat for Humanity Homes, Fox 25 reported. Since 2002, the Warners have helped 43 families.
Since Warner’s retirement from football, the couple have been spreading their message of faith. In 2012, they told CNN that they believe their changing careers have all been a part of God’s plan for them.
“I don’t think that is the way that I would have written it, but I see that God has worked it out for good,” Brenda told CNN. “I can see how he has been faithful. I can say now I am grateful.”