The story behind Drew Brees' birthmark, and why he'll never get it removed

Drew Brees doesn't look like your typical NFL quarterback.

He's listed at a generous 6 feet tall, 209 pounds, while the average height of a pro quarterback is more like 6'3".

He also has a pretty big birthmark placed prominently over his right cheek.


Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images.

There it is. Clear as day.

Still, it can be hard for people to wrap their heads around a celebrity having such a glaringly obvious "imperfection." The first time Oprah met Drew in person, she thought his birthmark was a lipstick smudge and tried to wipe it off.

AWKWARD! GIF from "Oprah."

Drew has been selected to nine Pro Bowls, led the league in passing yards five times, and, of course, was named MVP of Super Bowl XLIV in 2010.

Before he was a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, though, he was just a kid who got made fun of for being different.

"Because of my birthmark, which I was obviously born with, I got all kinds of comments when I was a kid, about 'Wipe that whatever off your face.' ... All kinds of names. People would call me 'Spot,'" Drew told CNN.

"I think they were trying to be malicious. They were trying to be hurtful."

When he grew up and found his way to fame and fortune, he had a choice: have the birthmark removed or use it to send a message.

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images.

Drew Brees has, to put it bluntly ... a lot of freaking money. He's currently in year four of a five-year, $100 million deal and will likely cash in again with an even bigger contract before his career comes to an end.

There's no question he could pay for the plastic surgery to have that birthmark removed for good and have plenty of money leftover to enjoy his recovery in a five-star resort on Neptune, if he wanted.

But for Drew, this option never even crossed his mind.

In his book, "Coming Back Stronger," he writes: "Instead of seeing it as a bad thing, I chose to see it as something that made me unique and special. It set me apart from everyone else. ... Now it's just a part of who I am. I wouldn't consider cutting off my arm. Neither would I cut off my birthmark."

As his career blossomed, Drew began using his platform to tell kids like him that they don't need to be ashamed of who they are.

"There's lots of kids that may have something that somebody is going to make fun of. Their name, the way they look, the way they talk, the way they laugh. And it's so unfair, but it's reality," he said during his interview with CNN.

And in 2010, he teamed up with the It Gets Better movement to put out a message.

"Making fun of someone because they're different from you? That's not being tough, it's being ignorant," he said. "I want my fans to know that if you're making fun of someone ... then you are no friend of mine."

Now fans go to Saints games with fake birthmarks — sometimes stickers, sometimes temporary tattoos, sometimes eye black — on their faces to show their quarterback some love.

Photo courtesy of David/All Southern Livery.

Life is pretty good as one of the NFL's top players. But every time Drew takes the field, he's showing kids all over the world that being different is good — and not only will it not hold you back from achieving whatever you want, it might even help you get there.

And as for whether he'll ever change his mind and have the mark removed?

He told TMZ, "As long as there's no health issues with it, then it stays."

Right on, Drew. Right on.

Here's Drew on CNN talking about the birthmark, dealing with his bullies, and how he used it as motivation to become great:

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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This article originally appeared on 10.23.15


Getting people who don't suffer from anxiety issues to understand them is hard.

People have tried countless metaphors and methods to describe what panic and anxiety is like. But putting it into the context of a living nightmare, haunted house style, is one of the more effective ways I've ever seen it done.

Brenna Twohy delivered the riveting poetic analogy recently in Oakland, starting out by going off about some funny "Goosebumps" plots. It's lovely, funny, sweet, and relatable, and it's totally worth the short time to watch.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."