Professional baseball players and brothers Braden and Hunter Bishop lost their mom, Suzy, in 2019 after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis five years earlier. Here, the brothers, both currently part of the San Francisco Giants organization, reflect on fond memories of their mom and share how her love inspired them to create their 4MOM charity in her honor.
Tell us about your mom. What was she like?
My mom was a true presence: A fearless, passionate leader who positively affected everyone around her. She carried herself in a way that let you know that she meant business! I am so grateful to be able to call her my mother.
She was an amazing woman, a multitalented super mom whose biggest strength was taking care of others. She knew exactly how to make everyone in the room feel loved, and she made everyone happy. She was my best friend in the entire world.
Even in her darkest moments, she found a way to smile. She pushed through her pain to show us that no matter what you’re going through, there can always be a silver lining. Her strength was her greatest asset.
Do you have a favorite memory with your mom?
It has to be the last time she ever saw me play in a baseball game. I made an out, and was on my way back to the dugout, distraught. But then I looked up at her smiling face. She was saying: “C'mon Bra, you got it Bra!” At that point in her disease, I don’t think she could comprehend what was happening in the game, but I could feel her love. It is a moment I never want to forget.
When I was growing up, she’d always take me on little lunch runs after school. Looking back on those times, I probably racked up quite the bills making her take me out to eat every day! But I’ll never forget those amazing conversations we used to have, laughing, making the most of every second.
Your mom was a successful track & field runner and later a filmmaker in Hollywood. What inspiration did you get from her as you entered your own baseball career?
She was the most passionate leader I’ve ever been around in my life. She showed me what truly caring about people looked like, and how to hold yourself to the highest of standards at all times.
She taught me that I can do anything if I set my mind to it, and not to worry about what other people think or say about it. She inspired my baseball career and my work as a musical producer. [Hunter has released several electronic dance music singles]. She inspired me to keep going and fighting, no matter how hard the circumstances may be. Now I do that for her.
What advice do you wish you had had prior to your Alzheimer’s journey?
I wish my family knew how long we would have with Mom. We never thought the end would come when it did. We were finishing our 2019 baseball season when she slipped into a coma, a half hour before I was able to say goodbye. Cherish every day with those you love.
And enjoy every single moment. As a kid, you sometimes take things for granted and don’t realize how amazing having two parents is. I miss her every day, but losing her made me realize how precious my relationship with my dad is. It was a difficult lesson to learn.
What message do you have for other families facing Alzheimer’s or other dementia?
Embrace your loved one with fresh eyes, because they aren’t the same person they were. Learn to fall in love with who they’ve become.
I want other families to know that they are not alone in their fight. Be vocal, and share and express your feelings. It will feel freeing; I know it made me feel better about the situation we were facing.
Tell us about 4MOM, your charity created in honor of your mother.
4MOM started as an idea, and a reminder for us to play for my mom at all times. I would write '4MOM' on my arm every day, to give myself perspective. This led to media attention about the meaning behind it, and I quickly realized that it was a tremendous avenue to reach people who are affected by Alzheimer’s and spread awareness of the disease.
A lot of hands have joined in the fight through 4MOM. While we lost our mom back in 2019, our work for the cause continues. We have been working hard across the country to raise awareness and support for caregivers.
You have said that you will continue to honor your mom and her memories every day.
Our mother was tremendous, and led by example. She would treat everyone the same, whether they were the lead actor on a movie she worked on, or the janitor on a set. She loved people, and I try to do the same, in her honor, treating others the way I want to be treated.
I have a physical way I honor my mom. I use a cherry red bat — the closest bat color to purple legal within Major League Baseball — in honor of her. Every time I walk up to the plate, I say her name and tell her: “Let’s go!”
I know she is right there beside me, in spirit, every single time I step up to hit a baseball. Every hit is for Mom.
About: California native Braden Bishop is an outfielder for the San Francisco Giants. Bishop played for the University of Washington from 2012 to 2015 and was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 36th round of the 2012 Major League Baseball draft. The Seattle Mariners drafted Bishop in the third round of the 2015 MLB draft.
Also born in California, Hunter Bishop is a center fielder for the San Francisco Giants organization. Bishop played at Arizona State University and was selected by the Giants as the 10th overall pick in the first round of the 2019 MLB draft. Co-founders of the 4MOM charity, Braden and Hunter are driven with purpose in their mom Suzy’s honor. Visit their 4MOM Walk to End Alzheimer’s pages for walks in Phoenix and San Francisco.