James Dalvin Cook was born on September 25, 1999, in Miami, Florida, and is one of six children born to James Cook and Varondria Burnett. The Buffalo Bills running back has two older brothers, including NFL star Dalvin Cook, and three sisters.
Here’s what you need to know about James Cook’s family:
1. James Cook Grew Up in Miami, Florida, With 5 Siblings & Was Close With His Family
Cook grew up in Miami, Florida, the third son of James Cook Sr. and Varondria White, née Burnett. Cook Sr. and Burnett have six children together. The oldest, Deandre Burnett, took his mother’s maiden name, while the other five are Dalvin, Daneshia, James, Jameisha and Jamiya, ESPN reported. Cook also has a son named Demarcus, the publication wrote.
Cook’s older brother Dalvin Cook, who plays for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, spoke about his close bond with his father, sharing with ESPN, “Everywhere my daddy went, I wanted to go. I was always up under him, and it was like that when I got older, too. I just always wanted to stay with my dad.”
Dalvin Cook went to live with his father and grandmother, known as Miss Betty, when he was 13 years old. Cook’s grandmother was well-known in the community for always bringing food to her grandson’s team. She was incredibly supportive of her grandchildren and was in attendance at all of Dalvin Cook’s home games in college, ESPN wrote.
Cook’s father ran a mobile car wash business and loved to cook. Dalvin Cook and his father often went fishing in their free time, and his grandmother shared that “Fishing was their life. Even if they weren’t catching anything, they were out there.”
After James Cook Sr.’s death in 2020, Dalvin Cook moved his grandmother into a new home in Miami Gardens. “He was not going to take ‘no’ as an answer from me,” she told ESPN. “He never has refused to listen to something that I say, but at that point, he was so determined that I had to get out of that house. I said, ‘I don’t know, Dalvin,’ and he said, ‘Ma, I don’t want to hear it. You’re going.’ Like he was the dad. ‘You’re going.'”
2. James Cook’s Father, James Cook Sr., Died at 46 Years Old on December 29, 2020, From Complications From Diabetes
James Cook Sr. died on December 29, 2020, from complications from diabetes, ESPN reported. He was 46 years old.
When Cook was drafted by the Bills in 2022, his entire family had a “big party,” his grandmother shared. “Lots of family and friends, definitely,” she told the Star Tribune. “I told Dalvin the other day, ‘You know your dad is in heaven smiling down on us right now, don’t you? He’ll be with us.’ Two of my grandsons in the NFL. Amazing. Absolutely amazing.”
She also shared that the number 4, which Dalvin Cook wears, was a special number for Cook Sr. “Dalvin’s dad fell in love with that number. When Dalvin got drafted and showed up with No. 33, the first thing his dad asked him was, ‘What are you doing with that number?'” Now, after wearing the #28 for his first season, James Cook is also sporting the #4 that was so important to his father.
Dalvin Cook revealed that he feels additional responsibility since his father’s death to be there for his family. “Just looking out for my brothers and sisters and my grandma, too,” he told ESPN. “I just feel like that’s my role now in his absence.” However, his siblings have also been there for him.
Dalvin Cook shared that it was hard to get back into fishing, which he’d shared for so long with his father. But his siblings convinced him to get back to it and they would join him, he told the Athletic. So the Vikings running back taught his siblings to fish and he said, “They actually enjoy it now.”
3. James Cook’s Brother Dalvin Cook Is Also an NFL Player & the Two Talk ‘Every Day’
Cook is very close with his older brother Dalvin Cook, who was born on August 10, 1995, four years before the Bills star. Both grew up in Miami and played against each other in their backyard for fun, but because of the age difference, they never played against each other competitively until they were both in the NFL.
Dalvin Cook attended Florida State, where he was a star running back and won several honors. He was then drafted by the Vikings in the second round of the NFL Draft in 2017. The NFL star is a four-time Pro Bowler. Having an older brother in the NFL has been extremely helpful for Cook as he’s navigated the process and he shared that they’re very present in each other’s lives.
Cook said the two talk “every day,” he told the Bills, about not just football but their lives and everything in between. Cook revealed that his older brother was a mentor when he was younger and that’s continued through their careers.
“He just keeps telling me to stay ready,” Cook revealed of the advice his older brother has given him. “I just look at him, and he’s set the example,” he added in an interview with the Buffalo News. “That’s all the motivation I need right there. When I talk to him, he just tells me to stay locked in, stay ready and just be yourself.”
In the offseason, the two will train together in Florida and they push each other constantly. Dalvin Cook shared, “That’s probably the best thing, having your little brother in your workouts. He’s not going to beat me. That’s the mind-set I have,” he told the Star Tribune.
4. Dalvin Cook & James Cook First Faced Off on the Field in 2022 & They Spoke About the Special Moment
The Cook brothers had their first real football head-to-head in Week 10 of the 2022 NFL season when the Bills faced the Vikings. The matchup was a close one that saw the Vikings defeat the Bills in overtime.
“It’s just funny how things work out,” Dalvin Cook told the Buffalo News of the game. “We made it to the stages of our career that we aimed for when we [were] younger. So we just got to take advantage of it. It’s a fun time for my family. But it’s something that I will remember forever. Just taking it all in and a lot of emotions Sunday.”
As for Cook, he shared in the lead-up to the game that it was a “dream come true.” He told the Bills, “We both dreamed of being in the NFL. We both just gotta keep grinding, get better and better and keep leaning on each other.”
Their mother Varondria Burnett White, who has been a supportive figure in their lives, said dozens of family members were going to the game and would be wearing split hoodies. The publication wrote that Cook’s mother was in Buffalo for all of her younger son’s home games.
“I’m very nervous,” she told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press of her sons’ matchup. “I’m excited, but I’m actually nervous. I’ll just be there to cheer for them. Regardless of who wins, I just want the boys to have fun and do well.”
5. James Cook’s Oldest Brother Deandre Burnett Was a Basketball Star in College But Got His Younger Brothers Into Basketball
Cook’s oldest brother Deandre Burnett was also a college athlete and one of the main reasons the two NFL players got into football. “He would drag their shoulder pads, take it to practice to them. He would do everything they would do,” Cook’s mother told Fox of his desire to follow in his older brothers’ footsteps.
Burnett played football and basketball and stopped playing the former when he was 16 years old to focus on basketball. “[Deandre] wore No. 4 and was like a hero in my eyes when I seen him play football,” Dalvin Cook told the Star Tribune. “He switched sports, so I carried the legacy of No. 4 on, passed it to my little brother and on to my little cousins. It’s like a tradition in my family.”
Dalvin Cook and Burnett faced each other once on the football field before he switched to basketball. He was 16 and Dalvin Cook was 14. “We played each other that year,” Burnett recalled. “Dalvin ran a sweep near the goal line. I could hit pretty hard. I crushed him. He scored on the play, but he always said that might have been the toughest he ever been hit.” The family still discusses that hit and Cook’s grandmother said if Burnett had stuck with football, he’d also have made the NFL.
As it is, Burnett played basketball for the University of Miami and the University of Mississippi then played overseas, the publication wrote. He’s very proud of the success his younger brothers have found, sharing, “Dalvin and James are two very special, special players. I always knew they both were going to be better than me. I always wanted them to be better than me in football.”