Madison native battles for the Crimson Tide while Mom fights cancer at home

NEW ORLEANS, La. - Alabama's backup punter, like the rest of the team, is competitive and wants to win the Allstate Sugar Bowl - but his family is fighting a much more important, consequential battle.

When WHNT News 19 first introduced you to Bob Jones grad Mike Brenier, he was playing for Eastern Illinois under a scholarship.

Then, he got word his mother's cancer was back.

He decided to walk away, for love, not the game. Brenier thought his playing days were over, that is until the Crimson Tide came calling.

"I just felt like I would regret it if I didn't come home as she was going through this. And me not being able to see her as much as I could have," Brenier told WHNT News 19 in 2016.

Bernier says the decision was easy - being hundreds of miles away from home - while his mother was fighting for her life.

"There is really no way not to think about it.  It's always in the back of your mind and you're always thinking about it. Even when you are out there punting, in the middle of a game you are like how is my mom doing?" he told us two years ago.

Then, in a leap of faith, he called the coaching staff at Alabama.

After hearing his story and seeing his game film, the Crimson Tide offered Bernier a spot as a preferred walk-on.

Nearly two years later, Bernier is soaking up his first bowl trip with the Tide. “I didn’t get to do this last year because I was ineligible because I transferred and I definitely know what I missed out on," says Bernier.

Now considerably closer to home, Bernier's passion can remain on the field while his heart is in Madison. “My mom is hanging in there and is still doing treatment, and all that good stuff," he says.

For those wanting to help, the Bernier family has a simple request. “Just be praying for her and all that good stuff and I’m still happy she’s still here," says Bernier.

The ones helping him the most are his Tide teammates. “My teammates are always there for me and I can’t thank them enough for doing that. I really appreciate that," he says.

Regardless of the outcome of the game, Bernier wins every game knowing his number one fan is watching from home.

“Love ya mom, I’ll be seeing you soon, love ya," he told us.