If you want to know what shaped Josh Allen, you would be wise to visit the family farm in Firebaugh, California. Josh grew up working on the farm with his parents, Joel and LaVonne Allen, along with his three siblings. Wyoming associate athletic director Tim Harkins spoke with the Casper Star-Tribune about Josh’s family.
“I think part of that [Josh’s character] grows out of his family,” Tim told the Casper Star-Tribune. “He comes from a good family, and he’s got a great base of support.”
Growing up, Josh balanced his love for sports with washing dishes in his mother’s restaurant, and helping his dad in the farm. Josh transformed from having zero stars coming out of high school to being the face of an NFL franchise.
Learn more about the Allen family.
1. Josh Is From Firebaugh, California, a Town of About 8,000 People
Josh is about to transition from playing college football at Wyoming to the bright lights of an NFL city. Transition is nothing new for the quarterback. Josh grew up in Firebaugh, California, a town with an estimated population of 8,000 people. According to the Casper Star-Tribune, Josh was the first person from Firebaugh to play college football, and will become the first to play in the NFL.
“It’s something that has never happened in our community,” Joel told the Casper Star-Tribune. “So we’re kind of blessed in that regard that we’re providing a little entertainment for the community. I was just at the high school, and everybody just can’t say enough: ‘When’s Josh coming back? He needs to sign this for me.’…So it’s kind of a neat feeling, knowing that Josh is putting Firebaugh on the map, and we indirectly had a hand in his development. But a lot of community members did, too.”
2. Josh Grew Up Working on a 2,000 Acre Farm
Josh grew up understanding the value of hard work, growing up as part of the family farming business. His father admits he put Josh to work.
“We basically have row crops — cotton, cantaloupes, small grains — and a lot of it requires sprinklers or movable irrigation pipes, and Josh was always involved in that,” Joel told the Denver Post. “If I wanted him to drive a tractor, he was there. He even chopped cotton. He did it all. I think that helped him with his work ethic. He’s not afraid of hard work.”
There was a lot of work to be done as the Allens own 2,000 acres. It is a big reason why Josh was able to overcome not being recruited coming out of high school. He originally played for the community college Reedley College prior to getting an offer to transfer to Wyoming. Josh tries to downplay his farm work noting he and his siblings always had time to play sports.
“Our outlet was sports, and that’s what we did, stayed competitive year round to try to stay off the field as much as we can,” Josh told Yahoo Sports. “But we did help out quite a bit.”
3. Josh’s Grandfather, A.E. “Buzz” Allen, Immigrated From Sweden
According to ESPN, Josh’s great-grandfather immigrated from Sweden to Ellis Island in 1907. He and his son, A.E. “Buzz” Allen, ended up settling in Firebaugh, California. Buzz started the family farm in 1975, and Josh’s father, Joel, carries on the tradition today. According to the Casper Star-Tribune, Josh’s grandfather died of cancer in 2013.
“Before every football game, I’d go [into the gym] and touch his little plaque, especially after he passed away,” Josh told the Casper Star-Tribune. “Just a reminder that I was playing for him.”
Watching his father work on the farm shaped Josh’s work ethic.
“It instilled a work ethic,” Josh told ESPN. “Seeing my dad wake up super early when the sun wasn’t even out and then coming home when the sun was set, he worked his tail off to provide for our family and did a great job. He’s the most selfless man I know, and I think if I’m half the man he is, I’ll be all right in this world.”
Joel and the family managed to keep up with the farm work, while also attending all of Josh’s college games.
“It hasn’t disrupted my routine, but once we get into the actual game time, the weekends are a little bit more challenging,” Josh told the Casper Star-Tribune. “But we made it work last year. I didn’t miss one game. It was a [challenge], but totally worth it. I think there would be a lot of dads that would kill to be in my position.”
4. Growing Up, Josh’s Mother, LaVonne, Owned a Restaurant Called The Farmer’s Daughter
Until recently, Josh’s mother ran one of the few restaurants in Firebaugh, and it was aptly named The Farmer’s Daughter. The place fed a lot of people in the town, including a number of farmers.
“My kids were in high school right around the corner,” LaVonne told the Casper Star-Tribune. “My baby girl was right behind me at her school. My older daughter was doing her thing in Long Beach. So it was a great time for me to have the restaurant. It kept me busy. My boys always knew where I was.”
Not only did Josh and his three siblings help out on the farm, they helped wash dishes for their mother in exchange for a free meal during their school lunch.
“I would have other waitresses and whatnot, but I would (have) dishes to the ceiling,” LaVonne told Casper Star-Tribune. “They’d come in and pump out the dishes before they came back to school. They always knew where I was, so it was just a perfect time to have it.”
5. Josh Has 2 Sisters & a Brother
According to the Casper Star-Tribune, Josh is the second of four children for Joel and LaVonne. His younger sister, Makenna, is also a standout athlete, playing volleyball, basketball and softball at the local high school. His brother, Jason, is an outfielder on the Saddleback College baseball team. The family is competitive, but they all encouraged each other to be their best.
“… They’re [Jason and Josh] the best of friends, and people see it,” Lavonne told Casper Star-Tribune. “They’re like, ‘What have you guys done with your family that they’re so close?’ I go, ‘I don’t know. We just support each other, and I wanted my kids to do that, too.’ Maybe the way that the boys were together, they don’t know not having each other. … The push and the drive on both of them was really good.”
Josh’s parents used their land to create activities for their kids, making their house the go-to place for all their friends.
“We kind of created our house out here in the country, kind of the kids’ paradise,” LaVonne told the Casper Star-Tribune. “We have a lot of different things for them to do. We have a basketball court. We have … a sand beach volleyball (court). They have a batting cage. We have a little putting green for the kids. So it was kind of a destination where we wanted all these kids to be at our house.”