Sabrina Greenlee, the mother of superstar NFL wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, will be the subject of a feature film outlining her tragic and uplifting life story.
Called simply “Sabrina,” the movie will focus on her life raising a family and inspiring others in the fallout of a 2002 attack which left her legally blind. The film will be produced by BRON studios, the company behind the upcoming “Joker” film starring Joaquin Phoenix.
“I am honored to begin work on a film with Bron Studios that celebrates the life of my incredible, courageous and inspiring mother,” Hopkins told Variety. “My mom has always put everyone before herself and sacrificed things unimaginable. Now, it’s time for people to see her true value and learn that giving up is not an option.”
Greenlee was attacked by Savannah Carlita Grant in 2002 after Grant learned that her boyfriend had been cheating on her with Greenlee. Grant threw a mixture of bleach and lye Greenlee’s face, boiling hit, instantly blinding her sending her into a coma.
But she recovered, going on to raise a family of four as a single mom and inspire thousands through her work and words.
“BRON prides itself on telling real, human stories that highlight the strength of spirit,” said BRON’s Aaron Gilbert. “When I heard the story of this extraordinary woman and her incredible family, we had to get involved.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Greenlee’s Attacker Left Her for Dead
Sixteen years after the fact, Greenlee is able to calmy recall the vicious events with clarity.
“At the age of 31-years old, I was attacked by a female who unbeknownst to me, was the girlfriend of a guy who I had been dating for only three months,” she says in the video. “She came out of the apartment, and that is when she dashed me with Red Devil (drain cleaner) mixed with Clorox. My eyes instantly go blind, and I’m laying there on my back, and my breathing gets shallow, and I’m clearly fighting for my life.”
The boyfriend was there during the attack, and in a 2013 USA Today interview, Greenlee says they both “left me there to die.”
She was rushed to an Augusta, GA hospital, where doctors put her into a medically induced coma for almost three weeks, painstakingly grafting her face back together. She was eventually able to regain 60 percent of her sight in her left eye while remaining completely blind in her right.
“Sixteen years later, after 20 to 30 surgeries on each eye, I realized that I am beautiful. I have a voice. I am more powerful, more courageous, more bold than ever.”
Savannah Carlita Grant was given a 20-year sentence for the attack. She remains behind bars with a scheduled released date of May 6, 2020.
2. She’s Become a Motivational Speaker and Advocate Against Domestic Violence
Greenlee has taken it upon herself to empower and educate people about the perils of domestic violence, speaking at schools, colleges, conferences, and summits, spreading her story of strength in the face of struggle.
She also founded SMOOTH Inc. (Speaking Mentally, Outwardly Opening Opportunities Toward Healing), an organization whose mission, according to her website, is “eliminating the epidemic of domestic violence and oppression against male and females of all ages, by changing the current beliefs and institutions which encourage violence.”
The organization also helps to raise money for bags and supplies for thousands of elementary and high school students, and that generous, selfless spirit has rubbed off on her kids. This January, DeAndre Hopkins donated his playoff game check to pay for the funeral of a seven-year-old shooting victim.
3. She’s a Strict & Successful Single Mother
Despite being legally blind, Greenlee found the fortitude to raise four kids on her own — DeAndre, his two older siblings Kesha Smith and Marcus Greenlee, and his younger sister, Shanterria Cobb.
She told the Greenville News in 2016 that she’s not sure herself how she pulled it off, although it helped that all four kids were close and looked out for each other.
“I look back and I know that there had to be some type of higher power at work,” Sabrina said. “I wasn’t around my dad growing up, so I never knew what it was like to be a man. Nobody ever told me how to do this, but I think my biggest thing was I was determined to never lose control.”
She told KHOU11 News that she couldn’t be more proud of how they all turned out.
“I’m super proud of every last one of them,” she beamed “They are super respectful. They love their mama.”
4. Greenlee Escaped a Car Crash Which Killed DeAndre’s Father
DeAndre Hopkins’ father was killed in a car crash in 1992 when the star receiver was just five-months-old. Harris Steve Hopkins was 25-years old at the time. He behind the wheel of a Ford Mustang when he hydroplaned in the middle of a turn, flipping the car three times before crashing into a guardrail.
He would die eight days later, but Greenlee, who was also in the car at the time, somehow walked away from the crash relatively unscathed.
Despite being a known drug dealer, Hopkins told USA Today his father was well liked and respected.
“He was a great guy from what my mom tells me,” he said. “Every Christmas, he would buy everyone presents.”
5. Greenlee Goes to Her Son’s Games, Even Though She Can’t See Them
Being legally blind hasn’t stopped Greenlee from being in attendance as her son, generally considered to be among the best receivers in the league, from doing his thing.
She often attends Houston Texans’ home games, cheering her son on from the front row. But she didn’t always do so. After the attack, DeAndre had to convince her to come to his games, despite not being able to see.
“He said, ‘Mama, it don’t matter as long as you’re there,’ ” Greenlee tells the Houston Chronicle. “As soon as he said that, that night I went, and I never stopped. (Others) would lead me into the football stadium or the basketball arena. I wasn’t ready to face people with my face being like it was. That kind of helped me get out of my box.”