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A family affair: Fletcher Cox and his loved ones share a special bond

Fletcher Cox and his family celebrated his retirement Tuesday.
Fletcher Cox and his family celebrated his retirement Tuesday.

In 2012, a large contingent of Fletcher Cox's family members made their way to Radio City Music Hall in New York City to see their son, brother, and nephew get drafted by the Eagles with the 12th overall pick.

Twelve years later, Fletcher was surrounded by an even bigger group of loved ones at the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia on Tuesday afternoon. With his mother, sisters, girlfriend, and many other family members sitting in the first three rows of the auditorium, Fletcher said goodbye to the game he loved in a press conference that emphasized one main theme – family.

The six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle announced his retirement from the NFL in a social media post on March 10. Fletcher used his time on stage to thank his teammates, coaches, front office members, the fans, and most importantly, his family.

"Mom, I love you," Fletcher said during his press conference. "You're part of the reason why I am where I am today, the success I had. It took a lot for you to get me to play this sport growing up. You always said, 'I don't want my baby to get hurt,' and you had to realize that at some point you had to let me grow up and be a young man, and you did just that. I thank and love you for that."

The Eagles celebrated Fletcher Cox's retirement with the 6-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle and his family at the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday, April 9. In March, Cox announced the end of his 12-year career, all with the Eagles, in a social media post.

Growing up in Yazoo City, Mississippi, Fletcher was raised by his mother, Malissa, and encouraged by her to play football.

Along with his mother, Fletcher lived with his brother, Shaddrick, and sisters Nikki and Fantasia.

Shaddrick, known as "Trell," served as a father figure for Fletcher, keeping him focused on his promising football career and introducing him to his passion for building and maintaining race cars. In 2015, just a few short years into Fletcher's career, his brother died of a heart attack at the age of 34.

To honor his brother and make sure he is always present, Fletcher has "Shaddrick" tattooed on his right forearm.

"We all know that my brother played a big part in being a father figure in my life," Fletcher said. "I wish he could be here with me today, but he is here in spirit."

Already in a tight-knit family, Fletcher's bond with his mother and sisters grew closer, as he started to become a role model for his nieces and nephews and continued to carry Shaddrick's legacy.

While living in Philadelphia, Fletcher would take care of his siblings in any way he could. The distance between Fletcher and his family didn't impact their ability to stay connected.

"Always being supportive of him was very important for us," Nikki said. "Keeping that bond and staying close, even with the distance between us, was very important to me."

Fletcher's family described Philadelphia as the "perfect place" for him.

The 21-year-old came to the city with thick skin and a blue-collar work ethic, and for a player with his background and family story, playing his entire career in the City of Brotherly Love was meant to be.

"Philadelphia was one of the places Fletcher really wanted to come to," Malissa said. "It was an excellent outcome for our family. He has been a force since being here. I am so proud to be an Eagle and I know he is too."

Since the family affair at the 2012 NFL Draft, a new member joined the family.

Fletcher's girlfriend, Kaycee Marchetti, has been in his life since his first weekend in Philadelphia. The two met at Xfinity Live in South Philadelphia just days after the Eagles traded up to get the defensive tackle out of Mississippi State. While they didn't start dating till 2017, Fletcher and Kaycee have been attached at the hip ever since.

From Day 1, the two have prioritized family. Kaycee's whole family attended Tuesday's festivities, as they have become a major part of Fletcher's life.

"Besides football, his family is the biggest thing," Kaycee said. "His brother who is here in spirit is his biggest motivation, I know he does this all to make him proud. I am a huge family person myself, so to be able to connect with somebody and build the relationship that Fletcher and I have is amazing."

While many fans know Fletcher the player, Kaycee has an inside look at Fletcher the person.

Kaycee characterized Fletcher as a "goofball."

"He is never not happy," Kaycee said. "He is like the big kid at home, he brings so much life to me, the house, and our five dogs. He is a big teddy bear. It's funny, people will look at him and be scared, but you can just see that smile and know he is such a good guy."

While Fletcher is in the early stages of retirement, he is already looking forward to attending his siblings' kids' sporting events and being present in their lives.

"Family means a lot to him just like it does to me," Malissa said. "His family is going to be there when no one else is there. I love that he cherishes the relationships he has with his siblings and the rest of his family."

"Regardless of trials and tribulations, Fletcher is always there for the family," Nikki said. "That is why I really respect him and am so proud of all his accomplishments as a player and person."

Fletcher and his loved ones hope that the next major family reunion will be in Canton, Ohio when Fletcher is putting on a gold jacket as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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