A house on a hill can’t be hidden.

The phrase above is Carmen Chubb’s abbreviated version of a scripture, Matthew 5:14, that reads, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” It’s something she believes has guided her family over the years. She repeats it often to her two sons and husband and it’s the first thing she said to her youngest son and Broncos outside linebacker, Bradley Chubb, when he informed her Monday he’d been selected as a starter in this year’s Pro Bowl.

“Continue to do your best and your diligence will be rewarded, whatever that reward is,” Carmen said, explaining the scripture’s meaning. “I didn’t know that reward would be the Pro Bowl, but I sure am glad it is.”

Some may not realize the significance or the emotional impact behind earning a spot in the Pro Bowl — a game that most see as nothing more than recognizing the league’s best players, which will not be played this year due to COVID-19.

But for Chubb, it recognizes much more than another bullet point added to his bio.

His journey has been a difficult one. As the former fifth pick in the 2018 draft, he’s expected to make several Pro Bowls. But when the Broncos face the Chargers on Sunday, it’ll mark just 455 days ago that he suffered his second torn ACL, with both tears coming in his left knee. And so to accomplish all that he has this season — despite the apprehension that entered his head during rehab — it's something Chubb is not going to take for granted.

“It’s huge being able to get the Pro Bowl nod after all the things I went through last year with the knee, the rehab, doubting myself and doubting my abilities,” a tearful Chubb said Monday. “It put the icing on top. Like I said, it’s special and it means a lot to me after this crazy year and after everything I’ve been through and this whole team has been through. To have this bright spot is something to look forward to.”

Chubb has totaled 7.5 sacks, nine tackles for loss and 42 total tackles. He ranks fourth in the AFC in sacks, quarterback knockdowns (18), pressures (25) and hurries (41).

“Very, very deserving and extra special for him in that he’s coming back from an ACL,” Broncos coach Vic Fangio said. “He was an A-plus patient in his rehab the way he attacked it and was committed to it. The big thing was him being able to play the way he played this year, but this is just like a cherry on top of the sundae that he’s getting rewarded for that.”

Chubb’s path has been full of obstacles, from the injury itself to rehab during a pandemic to the mental hurdle that made him question if he’d ever be the same player he was. But what’s helped him along the way has always remained the same — family.

From his brother Brandon’s never-ending guidance to his mother Carmen’s reassuring motivation to his father Aaron’s heartening conversations, his family’s unwavering faith has fueled him, as he never strayed from the lessons they’ve taught him.

“He probably sees in me and his father that we're not the kind of people that give up,” Carmen said. “I think there's an element of grit that exists in all four of us. If we say we're gonna do something, we do it. If we think we want to physically challenge ourselves to do something, we do it. I would say, as parents, it was a bit of encouragement and, frankly, a belief in them that they can do anything.

“We’re not gonna wallow — you can be sad for a moment — but then we're gonna get up and we're gonna go take the journey.”

Astronaut and Pluto

Brandon has walked a mile in Bradley Chubb’s shoes.

The older of the two brothers, Brandon was often the first to experience many things in their lives. He played football first, went to high school first, got recruited first and played in the NFL first. This meant Brandon often knew exactly what to tell Chubb when he came seeking advice.

But the night before playing Maryland his redshirt sophomore year at Wake Forest, Brandon was speechless. His mom had informed him that Bradley had suffered a severe knee injury, not knowing for sure if it was an ACL tear or not, but knowing it was serious. Brandon broke down in tears, knowing Bradley, a junior at the time, was in the middle of his recruiting process and understanding the repercussions of missing over half his junior season.

“Yeah, you see examples all around you — people like Adrian Peterson came back stronger, or even Nick (Chubb), our cousin who came back stronger from his injury in college,” Brandon said. “But it's always idiosyncratic because it's really just how your body responds, how the doctor does your surgery, all that goes through your head and there’s a lot of that you can't control. And for a 16-, 17-year-old to go through that, with algebra and English and history and getting recruited on their mind, it all makes it harder.”

Brandon eventually found the words, encouraging his brother to do what they’ve always done: keep fighting. And in 2017, when Brandon tore his ACL while playing with the Lions, this time it was the little brother’s turn to offer some advice, as he was becoming a star at N.C. State.

“It’s just kind of in our blood,” Brandon said. “We got taught a blue-collar mentality — just put your head down and work.”

Tuning out the noise is something Chubb has become good at. He’s been forced to, after being a part of three-straight losing seasons and often hearing about how the Broncos should have drafted someone else instead of him.

But through it all, Brandon has been his most trusted confidant. His brother, who’s spent nearly five years in the NFL and been on six teams, can relate to his struggle.

“I know his time in Denver the past three years has been tough,” Brandon said. “But being able to see him come through all he's overcome to ACL tears to the Denver newspaper saying we should have taken (Buffalo quarterback) Josh Allen over Bradley Chubb two days before they played the Bills and just stuff like that. And now getting this reward kind of validates him at the end of the day. It’s his proudest moment and for us as a family, too.”

Not long ago, Brandon nicknamed Chubb "Astronaut" and himself “Pluto.” The inspiration for the names came from one of Brandon’s favorite rapper, Future. But the nicknames have much more meaning than that. It represents that “keep fighting” attitude the two possess.

“It's not the end. He’s so young in his career, still on his rookie contract, so it just tells you there’s a lot more to go. The sky's the limit,” Brandon said. “And that's kind of why he's ‘Astronaut’ and I’m ‘Pluto’ — we don't just shoot for the stars, we shoot for the planets. And we’re really just going above and beyond the glass ceiling that's placed above us and really just shooting high and hoping that you fall somewhere in that realm.”

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A mother’s books

Carmen is best described in the Chubb family as “the foundation.”

The chief of staff for Atlanta's mayor, Carmen has always been a leader in the family. She’s their rock, always keeping her sons and husband grounded. And that was no different when Chubb tore his ACL last year and she had to step out of a meeting with the mayor to empathize with her son.

“He was just overtaken. He was very, very, very upset. And when he said, he tore his ACL again, I'm like, Oh, my God,” Carmen said. “He knew that meant nine months to a year he couldn't contribute to his team anymore. And that seemed to be what was concerning him the most.”

Carmen says the most difficult part of Chubb’s second ACL injury was not being able to see him. Chubb did the latter part of his rehab during the start of the pandemic, meaning he spent most of his days isolated.

Carmen, of course, worried about her son’s mental health, but didn’t want to overwhelm him with daily questions of how he was doing and feeling. So instead, she sent him motivational books. Two in particular stood out: one of Max Lucado’s daily devotionals and former U.S. President Barack Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope.”

She hoped those books would inspire him as he went through rehab. Lucado’s devotionals was something he could read every day, strengthening his faith. And Obama’s 2006 novel was something to keep his mind off football and remind him of other problems in the world.

“Bradley is not one that just calls us and lays everything out, so I wanted to give him something he could read and maybe learn from,” Carmen said. “He's very much independent and wants to handle things and doesn't want us to worry. But of course, from time to time, I would ask how he was doing and he would let me know that it was really hard.”

Carmen has always been the calming presence in the Chubb family. Her and Aaron say it’s a healthy balance — he gives the tough love and she gives the words of encouragement. She’s always been that way, believing in her kids and their dreams.

And while she’s overwhelmingly proud of her son for all the things he’s accomplished on the field, it’s his ability “to be present” off the field that makes her prideful to call Chubb her son.

“He doesn't see himself as this football star. And I'm proud that he hasn't let it go to his head,” Carmen said. “He hasn't forgotten who he is and where he came from and who his people are. Bradley, in his heart, he knows what his faith is and he knows his family. We are here for him, no matter what.”

Conversations with dad

Aaron sat in a suite at Empower Field, knowing something was wrong with his son.

It was early in the fourth quarter when Chubb initially tore the ligament, but not knowing at the time he had done so. But as limped to the sideline and threw his helmet in disgust, Aaron had a feeling something wasn’t right. Chubb stayed in the game despite the pain and even forced a fumble, though, the Broncos would go on to lose to the Jaguars 26-24.

Then, a couple of days later, Aaron got the news they had all been fearing. Chubb had torn his ACL for the second time. Of course, his dad was the first person he called.

“Stay calm and we're gonna get through this thing. We've been through this before,” Aaron recalled saying to Chubb over the phone. “I know what you're capable of doing. We all know what you're capable of doing. And we know, if you continue to do that and attack it, like you did the last time, you'll be OK.”

When asked about that conversation Monday, Chubb sobbed.

“When I got the news about the ACL, I called my dad crying. I was a little emotional going through it,” Chubb said, as tears streamed down his face. “He told me to keep my head on straight, keep my head down and keep working. That’s what I did. Just to get this accolade is huge. Sorry to get emotional. I went through a lot this year. This for sure feels good.”

The video of Chubb talking about his dad has since gone viral. It’s easy to see Chubb is extremely close with his dad, who was a star linebacker for Georgia in the ‘80s and later played in the NFL. The two talk almost daily. And, in many ways, Chubb’s rehab made their relationship stronger.

The father and son would of course talk about football and the rehab process, but like Carmen, Aaron tried to steer the conversations in different directions. They talked about movies, TV shows, politics, food and just everyday life.

“I think those conversations were important,” said Aaron, who’s a salesman for a tobacco company in Georgia. “I tried to keep his spirits high and I know with the pandemic and all he was alone often and that’s when those moments of doubt creeped in. I just reminded him of all the work he’s put in and to continue the process.”

When Aaron found out his son made the Pro Bowl he was overwhelmed with joy. But he also admits he wasn’t surprised, knowing the type of mindset Chubb’s had all his life.

It’s a mindset that’s been instilled in him by each of his family members, a lesson of resilience and relentlessness to never give up.

“People will tell you you can’t do something, but if you want it, work for it,” Aaron tells his sons. “Don’t let anybody control your destiny. You always want to control your own narrative.”

And Chubb’s narrative is just getting started, as he continues to build his house on a hill in Denver that can’t be hidden.