CHICAGO — Manny Bravo is humbled every time he visits his football locker at Brother Rice High School.
Before the season, the Crusaders' senior offensive lineman was given the honor of using the "Andrew Weishar Locker" — named for the former Brother Rice star who died on Oct. 12, 2012 at age 21 after a three-year battle with colorectal cancer.
The locker, part of the school's renovated locker room, stands out in blue, surrounded by other lockers in traditional Brother Rice maroon.
"It feels awesome to honor him," said Bravo, 18, of Scottsdale. "It just motivates me to always lead how he led."
Bravo was selected to receive the Weishar locker because of his ability to lead in the classroom and weight room. He is an Honor Roll student and a football captain. He also holds school records for deadlift (500 pounds) and squat (445) and has bench-pressed 315.
We remember Andrew Weishar today on the 3rd anniversary of his passing. Manny Bravo, 1st to earn the #55 AWF locker. pic.twitter.com/zEQFOLZSBh— Brother Rice Chicago (@BrotherRice) October 13, 2015
Brother Rice coach Brian Badke called Bravo "the hardest worker I've ever coached over my 17-year career."
"He never takes a day off," Badke said. "He truly he's one of the most unbelievable kids I have ever coached."
Bravo hopes his dedication to lifting and workouts will help carry Brother Rice to the IHSA Class 8A state championship game. The Crusaders (10-1) travel to Palatine (9-2) on Saturday at 2 p.m. in a state quarterfinal, looking for their fourth trip ever to the Final Four.
Bravo, a left guard, weighs only 205 pounds — about 40 pounds lighter than any other Brother Rice starting O-lineman. He usually blocks against defensive linemen and linebackers far heavier and larger. Bravo said he makes up for his lack of weight by a obsessive in- and off-season workout regimen. That includes occasional solitary, multi-mile runs at Brother Rice's track while wearing 30-pound vests and ankle weights.
"Opponents may be stronger than me, they may be bigger than me, but they haven't outworked me throughout the week, throughout the season," Bravo said.
Bravo said he developed discipline from his parents: Francisco, an ex-Marine, and Estella, a student coordinator at Stroger Hospital who Bravo said was one of the most motivated people he knows.
Bravo hasn't made a college decision but said he'll major in exercise science. He eventually wants to earn a living as a personal trainer and hopefully return to Brother Rice to help future Crusaders student-athletes.
"This school means everything to me. It’s pretty much my second home," Bravo said. "I’m here from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. I never get tired of being here. I feel safe when I’m here. I feel right when I’m here."
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