Frazier served his mission on the tough streets of Oakland, Calif. There were a few other black missionaries in the field at the time, but Frazier's mission companions were white. He must have been conspicuous on the street, given his size, manner of dress, and his white sidekick. "We went into some harsh areas," he says. "We had to rely on the spirit to avoid issues. We never had a physical confrontation. We were in some places where people wondered what we were doing there."
He met his future wife, Joy Hobbs, a white woman from Canada who was living in Utah, before his mission, but there was no immediate spark. After Frazier returned from his mission, they reconnected at a fireside in which he was the speaker. They dated for 10 days and then eloped.
"Her parents were not happy," he says. "It's cool now, 28 years later." This is followed by the boisterous laugh again.
A year later Danny and Joy were married in the LDS Laie, Hawaii, Temple.
How did her parents feel about the mixed marriage? "The issue was more with my mom than with my wife's parents," he says. "They were more upset that we eloped. She didn't tell her mom and dad we had eloped until three or four days later."
Their four children — three sons and a daughter — are all tall and athletic, but Jameson is the only one who competed at the Division I level, and that required Rudy-like persistence on his part. After a quiet prep career as a wide receiver at Alta High, he tried to play the same position as a walk-on at BYU only to be cut. Following his church mission to Montreal, he walked on again at BYU in the fall of 2007, this time as a safety, but didn't make the roster. That meant all he could do with the team was lift weights every day at 6 a.m.
He got few reps in spring ball and again failed to make the list of 105 players who could compete in fall practice. But a few days before camp opened the Cougars offered him a spot as a receiver on the scout team. The following spring, he was moved to outside linebacker and found a home. In 2010, he earned a starting job.
Says Danny, "One time he called and said, 'I'm not sure I'm on the team.' This happened several times. At first we were freaked out about it. After a while we just laughed. It worked out."
For that matter, it has all worked out for Frazier. The career, the mission, the family. He has three grandchildren. They didn't know what to make of him at first. "I'm kind of loud," he says. "It's startling at first. They get used to it. They don't even flinch anymore."
He has continued to stay in shape over the years. Says Jameson, "I definitely wouldn't take him on. My two brothers and I have taken him on for years, trying to wrestle him to the ground. He could take all three of us easily all the way through high school. Easily! It's a little easier for us now because we figured out how to get him from different angles so he's a little outmatched."
Looking back, Danny says, "I wanted to do what I'm doing now. I chase my grandkids around the house and we go for walks. I'm teaching my granddaughter to ride a bike. This is what it's about. This is what I wanted to do."
Give the final word to Edwards, his old coach: "He had all the athleticism to be a great football player; the accident was tragic that way. But he didn't use that as a crutch. He moved on. A lot of people would have been bitter and let it ruin their lives. Danny never thought that way. He found other challenges. The guy was one of the real choice people you ever work with because of his attributes. Athletically, he had it all, but equally, and maybe even more, was his outlook on life and the type of person he is."
- The Utah football 100: Ranking the best...
- Dick Harmon: BYU Cougars find new walk-on...
- New York Jets waive former BYU quarterback...
- Guest commentary: How to spice up BYU...
- Langi, Tuiloma to help anchor middle of BYU's...
- BYU coaches happy about development of...
- Tyler Haws' NBA dream path takes a detour to...
- BYU football position preview: The...
- Morning links: Cougars examined by USA... 56
- Guest commentary: How to spice up BYU... 48
- Rock On: Sarkisian runs afoul of BYU... 38
- BYU football: Lone Peak's Jackson... 31
- Dick Harmon: BYU Cougars find new... 28
- Morning links: Utes are the Pac-12's 'X... 27
- New York Jets waive former BYU... 25
- Doug Robinson: No days off on Utes'... 23