New Detroit Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown was built to be a star at an early age

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Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press
·4 min read
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His father was a two-time Mr. Universe, so it is no surprise that Amon-Ra St. Brown started lifting weights at an early age.

"I was about 6," St. Brown said. "We started lifting PVC pipes. Not any weight, really. Just to get the form down, and then once we got the form down I started adding like 10 pounds and went on from there."

St. Brown never quite matched his father John's swollen physique, but the strength and athleticism he cultivated at an early age helped make him one of college football's most interesting receivers and the first of two fourth-round draft picks by the Detroit Lions on Saturday.

Nov 7, 2020; Los Angeles CA, USA; Southern California Trojans wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (8) makes a catch while defended by Arizona State Sun Devils defensive back DeAndre Pierce (2) in the fourth quarter at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated Arizona State 28-27.  Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 7, 2020; Los Angeles CA, USA; Southern California Trojans wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (8) makes a catch while defended by Arizona State Sun Devils defensive back DeAndre Pierce (2) in the fourth quarter at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated Arizona State 28-27. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

St. Brown caught 178 passes in three seasons at USC, where he played both outside and in the slot. He finished fourth in the Pac-12 in receiving yards last season, drawing comparisons to former Lions receiver Golden Tate from one NFL scout.

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And his fascinating family includes two older football-playing brothers: Osiris, who has one year of eligibility remaining at Stanford, and Equanimious, who plays for Amon-Ra's new division rival, the Green Bay Packers.

“When you’re so close in age, and we’re all a year and a half apart, ... we’re all doing everything together," St. Brown said. "We’re lifting weights together, we’re training together, we’re out in the field running together, we’re playing basketball together. It was really competitive in our household, and I think it just brought the best out of me growing up. I always was the youngest. The youngest brother always has to try to push harder in everything that they do. It just made me super competitive."

St. Brown played football, basketball and soccer growing up, and was trained to be a star athlete by his father, who once compared himself to LaVar Ball.

According to a Los Angeles Times profile on Amon-Ra, John Brown served as his son's personnel chef, crafting meals that always include red meat and blending peanut butter smoothies with a personal protein mix that John sells commercially.

Detroit Lions 2021 fourth round draft pick (No. 112 overall) USC WR Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Detroit Lions 2021 fourth round draft pick (No. 112 overall) USC WR Amon-Ra St. Brown.

Amon-Ra said it was his father's idea to bestow unique names upon all his boys.

"He didn’t want us to be like a Joe or a John like he was," Amon-Ra said. "He thought his name was very simple that he had growing up. He wanted us to have different names. He wants us standing out. So my name, Amon-Ra, is the Egyptian sun god. It’s an Egyptian name. And then my other two brothers, Osiris is the god of the underworld, Egyptian god of the underworld, and Equanimious comes from the word equanimity.

"So all three of us, he was thinking of ways to make us different and names were something he was very in to. He thought there was power in names, so Amon-Ra was one of the names that he really loved."

As a player, St. Brown was known for his physicality and toughness at USC. He said his early start weight training helped make him one of the best contested-ball catchers in college football, and in Detroit, he should have an immediate opportunity to contribute.

Southern California wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, right, catches a touchdown over Washington State defensive back Armani Marsh during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020.
Southern California wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, right, catches a touchdown over Washington State defensive back Armani Marsh during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020.

The Lions entered the draft with a significant need at receiver having lost Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Jamal Agnew and Danny Amendola to free agency. They signed a quartet of veterans this offseason, Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, Damion Ratley and Kalif Raymond, but all are on one-year deals.

Projected as a Day 2 draft pick by many analysts, St. Brown said he had "a bittersweet feeling" Friday when Round 3 came to an end and he was still on the board.

"It just made me realize (that) I’ve got to go harder," he said. "I’m glad that the Detroit Lions drafted me, but this is just the starting point for me. It’s the beginning of a chapter for me and I’m going to go ahead and work hard and give it everything I’ve got."

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Why Detroit Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown feels like he must 'go harder'