The New Orleans Saints quarterback initially viewed his mother's death as very personal, but he opens up about that tragedy as well as other failures and misfortunes in his new book, "Coming Back Stronger."
In the book, Brees writes, "I ask myself the question often: Could I have saved her?"
Brees led the Saints to glory despite being in mourning -- and guilt-ridden -- over the August 2009 death of his mother, Mina. Although Brees didn't discuss his mother's death in detail during the season, he devoted a chapter in the book to his relationship with her. He reflects on his alienation from his mother in adulthood, wondering whether he could have handled it differently.
Brees said Tuesday that he realized during many late nights sitting at his laptop computer in his kitchen that writing about his mother's death could serve as therapy for him and advice for others.
"I felt like it was very appropriate because I feel like so many people deal with that, be it the relationship with a parent or death of a loved one, whatever it might be," Brees said. "I wanted to address it in a way that was very sensitive to my family, but also very truthful, hoping that if somebody else has gone through that, or not gotten over it, or is not sure how to handle a situation like that.
"Maybe this can help."
Brees said he set out to write a memoir that could help readers find ways to turn adversity into opportunities to improve themselves and their lives.
Certainly, Brees has experience with that.
"I know that I've had so many experiences in my life and lessons learned through adversity, where I feel like if it wasn't for that adversity, then I certainly wouldn't be where I am now or have the opportunities that I had to get me to this point," Brees said by telephone from New York, where he made a series of appearances coinciding with Tuesday's official release of his first book.
Brees writes that even his first meeting with his wife, Brittany, was a flop in which he described himself acting like an "idiot" and leaving her with a terrible first impression.
Brees' football career from high school through college at Purdue and the NFL was loaded with setbacks detailed in the book, the worst being a career-threatening throwing shoulder injury in 2005 that effectively ended his playing days with the San Diego Chargers.
"It was very much a mentality of, 'No matter what, I'm always going to find the positive out of the negative and I'm going to come back stronger,'" Brees said. "I certainly feel that New Orleans has taken that philosophy. If you look at post-Katrina New Orleans, in a lot of ways it's come back better than it was before.
"Certainly, there's a lot of work to be done, but I try to draw the parallel in a lot of ways as to why I belonged in New Orleans and New Orleans was a calling for me. We all had the same thing in mind and we all were there to help each other."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press