"Ihope Bru dies."
That's what one man said when Horace McCoy Jr. answered the phone. Others found him on LinkedIn to threaten death to his son.
Shelby McCoy remembers being stopped at the supermarket. The dentist. High school games. Remembers receiving a Twitter direct message saying the NFL would never touch a headcase like her son and that she had raised a failure.
Alexa McCoy heard it at parties at her college. What the hell is your brother doing? Why would he ever do that?
In the aftermath of Bru McCoy's transfer from USC to Texas and then back to USC, all in the span of six months back in early 2019, he was called every name you can imagine. And no matter how much the 5-star receiver tried to not read the comments, he couldn't escape them. They found him. Hounded him. The internet was not some abstract place, something that shut off once he closed his laptop.
Bru McCoy is a clown.
Bru McCoy is weak as hell.
Bru McCoy is running from competition.
Bru McCoy won't pan out.
Bru McCoy is a pussy.
Bru McCoy should lose his eligibility for being such a flake.
Bru McCoy is an entitled cancer.
The more the name was sullied, the more the person didn't seem real. Strangers on social media forgot he was a human being. A teenager. Somebody's son. Somebody's brother. Somebody who had worked his entire life to play college football. He was just a body to them. A body that didn't go where they wanted it to.
"People dehumanized me," says Bru, now back at USC and planning to play for the Trojans as a redshirt freshman whenever college football resumes. "It's no excuse, but I was 18. I'm only 19 now. I don't think anyone at 18 really has it all figured out." He's chastised himself for his choice. He's contemplated how rushed he felt at the time, how calm he feels now. How confused he felt then, how motivated he feels now. Time, distance, perspective, made him feel like two different people.
"Arrogant 18-year-old me thought, 'I'll just go to Texas. SC didn't do me right.' It was arrogant of me," he says. "I made a rash mistake."
At the time he didn't want to talk about what happened. Made it a point not to. He didn't feel he needed to explain himself. To the media. To strangers. To 45-year-old men on Twitter he'd never met in states he'd never visited. To teenagers firing off insults about him late into the night on Instagram. He didn't owe anyone his pain, his story. He was still trying to figure it out.