Patrick Willis with Julia and Chris Finley
Patrick Willis was born on January 25, 1985 in Bruceton, Tenessee. When Patrick was sixteen Chris and Julia Finley became his legal guardians because his biological father had neglected his younger siblings.
In 2003 he attended OLE Miss. As a freshman he played in all thirteen games and received the Scholar-Athlete Award. In 2005 and 2006 Patrick led the SEC in total tackles, 6th nationally, and was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
Patrick was selected 11th overall in the 2007 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Since then he has been awarded 2 All Pro and 3 Pro Bowl selections and was slected as 2007ís Defense Rookie of the Year.
Watch the video of his inspiring story here
Chris Finley moved to Carroll County TN in 1987. He graduated with honors from Hollow Rock Bruceton Central High School in 1994. Chris attended the University of Memphis and graduated with Honors and a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics in 1998. He completed his Masters in Arts of Teaching at University of Memphis in 1999. He now works as a full time teacher at Hollow Rock Bruceton Central High School. He married his high school sweetheart Julia (Cole) Finley. They have four children, Parker Cole Finley, Ava Gabrielle Finley, Orey Cornelius Willis, and Patrick L Willis. In addition to teaching Chris is a licensed real estate agent in CA and TN. He has coached basketball for the past 11 years at Bruceton and coached softball for five years 2004-2008.
As a coach he spends a lot of time outside the classroom with his student athletes and is thankful to be teaching in a small school system where all the teachers work together to help students become better young adults.
Julia Finley also graduated from Hollow Rock Bruceton Central High school in 1994. She attended Jackson State Community College and then transferred to the University of Memphis. She received her degree in Elementary Education in 1999. She finished her Masters in Curriculum and Supervision from Trevecca Nazarene College. She taught for one year in Jackson Madison County Schools at Denmark Elementary before moving back home to teach at Hollow Rock Bruceton Central Elementary. She has taught 3rd and 5th grade.
It still amazes Julia to see the 3rd graders that she has taught walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. She has a special place in her heart for all her former students and is constantly astounded by their accomplishments as they move from middle to high school and eventually to college. She is a teacher at heart and feels that it is her calling, to give back something to the profession that has given so much to her and her family.