The competition in this basketball family starts just talking about the competition.
Who would win the family one-on-one tournament?
“Me,” says Curtis High School sophomore John Moore.
“Tamia,” rebuts Lincoln junior Tamia Braggs.
Never miss a local story.
“No, Brandon Cotton,” says the Franklin Pierce junior, who at times refers to himself in the third person.
“No, wait, I think it’s Tamia,” Tamia says, again.
It’s best to separate them.
Almost all of the Tacoma-area schools have a member of this Braggs-Cotton-Moore family playing a role on its basketball team.
There’s Braggs, a two-time 3A Narrows League Most Valuable Player, starring for the Lincoln girls. Her brother, Anthony Braggs Jr., is a freshman playing varsity on the Lincoln boys team.
Their cousin, Moore, was a first-team South Puget Sound League South selection for Curtis this season. Cotton, a second cousin, was a first-team 2A SPSL selection for Franklin Pierce, and Elijah Cotton-Welch is a senior who started for Wilson and was a 3A Narrows honorable mention.
And all except Cotton are preparing for elimination games in the regional round of the state tournament his weekend.
“We were always playing basketball,” Tamia Braggs says. “We all tried things when we were little, but we always stuck to basketball.”
Says Cotton: “I was born with a basketball.”
“I tried to branch off into, uh, cheerleading,” Tamia admits, which was immediately met with a raucous round of laughs from the other four.
If it’s like this now, imagine what they’ll do after high school.
Maybe each will be a standout tech whiz at competing computer companies? Or open their own separate five-star Tacoma restaurant?
What isn’t a competition in this family?
“We can’t play NBA 2K (a video game),” Cotton said, “because we play 2K and then we start talking and we have to settle it in real life.”
Adds Cotton-Welch: “The loser always goes, ‘You want to play me for real, though? Outside?’ ”
It probably all started with the five’s great-great grandparents, Bertha and Harvey Cotton. They’ve had other family members stand out in sports, with the most notable being Al Cotton — a former Wilson football and basketball star who went on to play offensive line at the University Oregon.
His nephews, Cotton and Cotton-Welch, said they hear the stories almost daily.
“Everybody just talks about how he broke a rim at an assembly,” Cotton-Welch said. “Teachers, coaches — everybody knew him.”
Moore and Anthony Braggs Jr. played AAU basketball together on the Tacoma Outlaws. And Cotton and Cotton-Welch play for the Seattle Swish. Tamia Braggs, the only one with a pair of league MVPs to her credit, was the odd-girl out.
“They all play each other. They kind of just leave me out,” Tamia says, trying to make a point. “They try not to hurt me.”
“Yeah, she’s kind of soft,” Anthony responds.
“Whoa!” Tamia says.
But get Anthony a little more serious and he’ll reveal what got him into basketball in the first place.
“I’m always looking up to her,” Anthony said of his sister. “I was put on varsity and they were like, ‘Your sister did this and this her freshman year. … They were always playing around like, ‘Hey, you’re 980 points from getting to 1,000.’
“She gets all these letters from colleges and I always said I want to do the same thing.”
They say there would be too much trouble if all were at the same school, playing on the same teams. But divided they have conquered their own niches at their respective schools.
And that goes beyond the basketball court.
“I think that it’s great that the family can show their talents and be in a good position of influence on their teams,” Tamia said. “They can go out and represent this family in a better way out in the community instead of being on the streets. We are out here representing our family and representing ourselves in a positive way.”
And just like everything else, they’ve turned it into a competition.