Matt Brewer was born August 8, 1989 in Ann Arbor, Michigan to Tim and Beth Brewer.  From the moment he could walk, it was evident Matt was born to be a protector.  He looked out for his sisters, the older of which was born severely mentally impaired.  Dressed up as the superhero of the day, Matt set about to protect them from all of the evil and villains of the world. 

At age five, Matt’s father was hit by a train, lost his leg and died six months later.  Surrounded by family and friends and his surrogate grandparents, Jack and Carol Buck, Matt healed and flourished.  In addition to the baseball field, Jack would take Matt with him to the local fire station. Awestruck, Matt decided that he would become a firefighter when he grew up.

On his 8th birthday, Matt joined a little league football team and found his true passion: hitting and being hit.  His giftedness in the sport was evident immediately and continued to develop in the decade that followed where he won All American and All State honors as a linebacker and fullback at Lafayette Highschool in Wildwood, Missouri.  In the off season, Matt took up wrestling and became a top ranked wrestler in the state of Missouri.  

At 18, Matt entered the Naval Academy where he would not only play football but find his future calling as a Marine. Matt started at linebacker, where he wore the number 38, and tied the record for the most forced fumbles in a single season.  He also won the 2013 Heavyweight Brigade Boxing Championship before graduating with a degree in Political Science.   In spite of the challenges he faced in balancing military life, academics and football, he would always look back at his time at the academy with deep gratitude for the coaches and professors who mentored him, the officers who challenged him and, perhaps most importantly, the Brotherhood who not only loved him but became his family. 

“Matt was the Captain America of the Marines”

-Lieutenant colonel erin berard

Upon graduation from the Academy, Matt served as an assistant football coach at Navy before heading to the Marine Infantry Officer School.  He then served as a Rifle Platoon Commander and the Combined Anti-Armor Team Platoon Commander in Hawaii with deployments to Japan, Guam and South Korea.   Matt went on to complete the MARSOC’s Assessment and Selection Course and was chosen to serve as the Special Operations Expert and Operations Officer at the United Nations in Mali, West Africa.  He finished his time in the Marines as a Future Operations Officer at the Marine University in Quantico.  

During his time as a Marine, Matt received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the United Nations Medal and the Army Achievement Medal for his work with the Marine Expeditionary Forces working in tandem with the United States Army.  As one of his superiors wrote, “Matt was the Captain America of Marines”. 

Matt pursued his dream of becoming a firefighter when he left the military.  He was serving as a firefighter in Kansas City at the time of his suicide. Matt was a born leader, a protector, a man who had a fierce love for his family, his friends, and his country and a man who had a deep faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is our hope and prayer that through his death, Matt’s life will continue to save and protect those suffering with suspected CTE and PTSD as we grow in our understanding, treatment, and support for those suffering with it.

Matt, along with all veterans and athletes, endure suffering to serve a purpose that is bigger than themselves. The 38 Challenge has one common goal: to endure 38 minutes of suffering to protect the livelihoods of the warriors who protect us. We have not yet begun to fight for Matt Brewer, his legacy, and for the countless number of veterans and athletes who have suffered and will suffer from CTE.


Learn more about how you can help the heroes who fought for our country by checking out Project Enlist, the Concussion Legacy Foundation’s program advancing critical research on traumatic brain injury (TBI), chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in military Veterans.

Matt’s brother, Brandt, created The 38 Challenge to honor Matt’s Legacy. Click the button below to register for The 38 Challenge today and join us on August 8th for the official challenge day.