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The collision course of the brothers Kendricks

The collision course of the brothers Kendricks

Mychal and Eric Kendricks’ path to becoming a standout, lightning-fast duo of NFL linebackers began at a performing arts school. This weekend, Mychal, 27, will be in Philadelphia, trying to get the Eagles to the NFC championship game. Eric, 25 will be in Minnesota, trying to get the Vikings there, too.

And wouldn’t that be something — brother vs. brother for a shot at the Super Bowl.

“It’s kind of a dilemma this year with the both of them in the playoffs, and my daughter is pregnant and due anytime with our first grandchild,” Yvonne Thagon, a proud mother, tells Yahoo Sports. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

[Stream the NFL Playoffs live on the Yahoo Sports mobile app]

Her “dilemma” could be worse.

It wasn’t so long ago Yvonne was working at a snack bar — not sitting in the stands — near the local football field in Fresno, California, earning a little extra money while watching her sons play ball. Or that Marvin Kendricks, the boys’ father, was struggling with an addiction to crack cocaine. Or the time a gang broke into the Hoover High School locker room and wrote hate notes on a board about Mychal.

“But we were in a gang ourself with our family,” Marvin says. “And they didn’t need to join a gang because football is such a team sport.”

Football was actually never on the boys’ radar growing up. “The focus wasn’t on sports at all,” says Yvonne. “My focus was getting them to college.”

It wasn’t until Mychal was an eighth grader — Eric a sixth-grader — that he approached his mom about playing. While he was less than thrilled to surrender his dance group — one that included hip-hip, tap and jazz — as well as a travel soccer team, he was willing to make the sacrifice, only if mom signed off.

“I sucked it up and let them play,” Yvonne says. “I just think they had a heart for it.”

It didn’t take long for both boys to take to the game, and it wasn’t long after that for Marvin, who played running back at UCLA under Dick Vermeil, to realize his kids were especially gifted.

“They were able to do things that most other kids couldn’t do,” he says. “But when they got to college, the big struggle was finding out there are a lot of great athletes. They were just average for a moment. We had a long conversation about taking it to the next level, and they both worked very hard to do that. They worked hard in school, too.”

Mychal feels his strong work ethic and discipline come from his mom, who was tasked with raising the children after she and Marvin split up.

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