By Jemele Hill
Page 2

Venus and Serena never had the classic match and might have given us the most boring reality series outside of "Amazing Race: Family Edition." Eli Manning is Jan Brady reincarnated. At night, you just know he stands in his mirror screaming, "Peyton! Peyton! Peyton!"

There is just a certain amount of dysfunction we're accustomed to seeing when it comes to brothers and sisters in sports.

The root of the friction is usually based on one thing: One sibling is better than the other one (or at least more successful) and the not-as talented one can't handle it.

That's why Fro Adu's normalcy seems as out of place as the Lock Ness monster in a chiffon evening gown.

Fro and Freddy Adu, a soccer phenom who turned pro at 14, just don't fit the stereotype, which makes their sibling act much more engaging. Neither is trying to be the other and we aren't forced to like them just because they're brothers.

Don't expect to see the Adu brothers in any Doublemint commercial or a "got milk?" ad. Don't anticipate that Fro will be in therapy years from now because he's headed to George Mason to play soccer next year and Freddy, at 17, is the face of Major League Soccer.

Freddy, traded from D.C.-United to Real Salt Lake last month, is just trying to be Freddy. Meanwhile, 15-year-old Fro is only interested in being Fro.

What a concept.

"He's got his thing and I do mine," Fro said.

They share the same first name per cultural tradition (Fredua). They love one another deeply and, of course, soccer. But, that's where the likeness ends. Their personalities are as opposite as Lil Kim's and Mother Theresa's.

Freddy, who was romantically linked to pop singer JoJo, is a partier. Fro is a homebody who thinks he may want to be a chef someday. Freddy is a muscular, speedy, 5-foot-8. Fro, a lanky, 5-10 with incredible lateral speed. Fro is anxious about dorm life next year. Freddy could be headed for Manchester United when he turns 18 in 2007. Fro makes music for MySpace. Freddy makes a reported $550,000 a year.

The imbalance of talent and status is fine with Fro. A senior defender for Georgetown Prep -- one of the top programs in the D.C. area -- Fro is secure with himself because he knows his college scholarship was not sibling affirmative action. Most coaches agree Fro's talent is for real.

Besides, Fro can accept their difference because he wasn't always as committed to soccer as Freddy. Fro had to be coaxed into the sport, but Freddy latched on immediately, routinely playing against older kids as the boys grew up in Ghana. Freddy has been playing almost nonstop since age 6. Fro didn't begin playing until after his eighth grade year and, when he did, he chose to make his impact defensively, not on offense like Freddy.

"First of all, he's better than me because he's professional and I'm not," Fro said. "You can't compare us. We're two different players. He's an attacker and plays no defense whatsoever."

Fro added that last dig with a smile. Jealousy never has lived amongst the Adus. Just the thought of wishing failure on Freddy to satisfy his own ego is slightly sickening to Fro.

"That's my brother," Fro said. "I love him. I look up to him. Why would I feel [jealous]?"

Sure, there are times when Freddy's legacy is a bit overwhelming, even stifling. Several times on the field Fro's high school opponents have used Freddy to taunt Fro.

They succeeded once, making Fro lose his customary cool. During a game with Georgetown Prep's biggest rival, Landon School, they needled Fro badly with "you're not as good as your brother" and "do you think you'll ever get out of your brother's shadow?"

"The first time that happened, I kind of wasn't expecting it," Fro said. "It got into my head a little bit."

Fro retaliated, drawing a yellow card after he performed a nifty leg sweep on the offending player.

"That game was a very heated game," Fro explained. "I just flipped out for no reason. I don't know why. I fouled the crap out of him. It was definitely worth it."

Only Freddy could enjoy his success more than Fro. There is no better gig than being Freddy Adu's little brother.

"He's making all this money and I get all this free stuff," Fro said. "What's not to like?"

Marcus Vick, pay attention.

Jemele Hill, a Page 2 columnist and writer for ESPN the Magazine, can be reached at jemeleespn@gmail.com.




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BROTHER'S KEEPER