MIAMI -- South Florida born and raised, Lewis Brinson has enjoyed holiday seasons that are usually sunny and bright, and through the years, included playing baseball.
Brinson grew up in Coral Springs, Fla., and due to the favorable weather, he took part in plenty of baseball tournaments, from Thanksgiving to Christmas. He wouldn’t necessarily play games on those special holidays, but there was no shortage of tournaments this time of year.
“There was always Christmas tournaments and Thanksgiving tournaments,” Brinson said. “I was always playing baseball, just not on those days. But there were a lot of tournaments.”
With so much baseball going on, it was common for Brinson to receive baseball bats, balls, gloves, cleats, pants and whatever gear was necessary on Christmas Day.
Now entering his third season with the Marlins, Brinson gets to play professionally in his hometown, and for the team he was a fan of as a child. The reason he wears No. 9 is because of Juan Pierre, his favorite player growing up.
Brinson has a place in Miami these days, and his mother, Susie, still lives in Coral Springs. The biggest holiday tradition he has is simply spending time with his mother, and whoever else shows up at the house on Christmas Day.
“Obviously we don’t have the change of seasons,” Brinson said. “So it doesn’t really feel like Christmas. But Christmas means a lot to me. I get to spend it with my mom. She just retired.”
On a typical Christmas morning, Brinson shows up to his mother’s house early, and she makes him breakfast. For dinner, the only thing Brinson demands is ham.
“There has to be a Christmas ham,” he said. “And some cookies. Homemade Christmas cookies. She makes them, or my uncle makes them. They have to be home-baked.”
A standard gift he always gives his mom, along with other gifts, is a pair of slippers. He’s done it since he was about five.
In 2016, when Brinson was in the Brewers’ system, he surprised his mother with a more lasting gift -- a new car.
"She cried," Brinson said. "She still drives it. She takes very good care of it.”
Another Christmas, Brinson gave his mother a new TV.
“She needed a new TV,” the outfielder said. “I like to give back to the people that helped me get here. She has no idea what to get me every year.”
One of the most memorable gifts Brinson received as a kid was a bicycle.
“I rode that thing until the wheels fell off,” he said.
Under the Christmas tree a few years later, Brinson woke to the rage of video games at the time -- a Wii.
“When the Wii first came out, I played it from morning until night,” Brinson said. “And the next day, I couldn’t move, because I was moving [around playing Wii]. I was so sore the next day.”
This offseason, Brinson has been working out regularly, training and hitting off the tee. He’s been traveling to the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla., where he’s taking batting practice with some of his teammates, like Díaz and shortstop Miguel Rojas.
For the holidays, he’s taken a little breather to be with family, and to give back to those who helped him throughout his career.
“Christmas time is for family, and giving back,” Brinson said. “Receiving gifts, but ultimately giving back. It just means a lot to be around family that day.”