In the unique new documentary series Two Brothers Two, director Rick Stevenson takes us on a journey through the lives of the Nelson brothers, Sam, Luke, Tommy, and Joseph, as they struggle to find love for each other and for themselves.
In this episode, teenage Tommy learns what it is like to lose. He discovers that perfection in school and sports isn’t necessary for happiness. In fact, true happiness comes from serving others. Speaking of service, Tommy also receives his call as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Where do you think he will go?
What about the other little brother, Joseph? Get to know him in Episode 13.
Two Brothers Two is the continuing story of Sam and Luke and their two younger brothers, Tommy and Joseph, 5,000 days in the making. Watch Sam, Luke, Tommy, and Joseph negotiate the journey of adolescence on the road to young adulthood. While they don't have it all, they do have each other. And this is their story.
It sounds like Luke's had the most powerful impact on you of all your brothers. Is that accurate?
What is it that's bonded you and Luke?
I think it's mainly just him being an example for me.
"Luke, your mission call's sitting right here." I was like, "What?"
It's like he was my best friend, and now he's preparing to go to Cambodia. And like, when I get a letter from him, it's like--it's like I hang on to every word that he says. I feel like Luke is, like, the definition of hard work, with his--especially with his football and everything.
You're training pretty hard to get this quarterback spot?
I've been doing a lot of training, and then I go to a camp most every Saturday. My quarterback coach, he talks about how I'm a little bit too much of a perfectionist because I hate not being able to do something. It's my goal, is to be the varsity quarterback.
So you're going to beat out this other kid that's trying too, huh?
I plan on it.
What's your greatest fear?
The thought of losing is the worst for me.
What have you learned about yourself this year?
It's OK to, like, start over with something new if something doesn't work out. I don't know. Being a quarterback was always my dream, and when the season started, this kid my age came back from a year-long injury, and he beat me out. I was just really mad. I was mad at myself for not working harder. I was kind of mad at the coach. Throughout my life to that point, everything that I had worked hard for, I'd seen the--I'd reaped the benefits of everything that I'd worked hard for. And when I didn't get exactly what I was expecting when I worked hard, it was a foreign concept to me. I was so confident that hard work would pay off. And it didn't.
What about your perfect 4.0 GPA?
I got my first A minus, by the way. Yeah, so I got my 3.98 now. It was in Spanish. It was ridiculous, but--
What did it feel like when you got an A minus?
It was just really frustrating.
Would you rather be a genius and unhappy or happy and just sort of smart?
Happy and sort of smart.
Now that you've had some imperfection in your life--
Yeah, it's kind of a big weight off my shoulders.
But what about all that hard work you put in for the QB spot? Was it all a waste?
I don't regret all that work, but it kind of hurts to think about and to be told that I wasn't good enough and I had to, like, totally change everything. I wouldn't have had to work so hard through that. Which would seem trivial to somebody going through harder things as an adult, but it meant a lot to me as a high school kid dreaming about varsity football.
You think there's a purpose behind you not making quarterback?
Well, like, last year I recognized pride is a big problem for me, and I've been working on that a lot. Just, I was so set on my plan being this. I really wanted to play quarterback. That's all right.
It ended up helping me accept failure, kind of. I kind of accepted that it wasn't going to happen, and then I just moved on to something else. So I play receiver now. I decided, "It's my senior year; I'm just going to work as hard as I can. I'm going to learn how to play receiver." I've never played it in my life. I decided I'm totally going to support this quarterback even though he's doing what I--exactly what I wanted to do. So I'm just going to catch every ball for him and just do the best I can for the team. I don't know. I caught, like, four of our six touchdowns in our last--it will be fun still.
I know I'm telling Dad, he'd be like, "What if you don't, what if you don't get a spot?" And I'd be like, "Dad, I can't afford to think like that." And then I didn't get it. If you want to succeed, you can't think that way, but it will make it a lot harder when you fail. [MUSIC PLAYING]
It's always good to look at yourself and see how you can improve, but if you take it to the extreme, you'll just never be happy. I learned so many lessons in that process and just picking myself back up and just working hard. My motivation has always been, like, my future family. There's nothing I'm looking forward to more than just, like, falling in love with the girl I'll be with forever and having kids and watching them grow up.
Tommy is the best man, so also, if he could come up and give us a good speech.
I am the next oldest brother after Luke, so I spent a lot of time looking up to Luke and learning from him. And he's always been really selfless to me. I think it's really cool that two people that have that nature, that selfless and generous nature, found each other.
If you want to just be happy, what do you do?
I don't know. I think that the time that I feel the most happy is when I'm selfless. My mom always says that you'll be happiest when you help someone that can't help you.
"Dear Elder Nelson, you are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Baltic Mission. You will be assigned to serve in the Latvia mission region." [APPLAUSE]
Next we focus on Sam and Luke's little brother Joseph.
My nerdiest characteristic is probably dancing. I have some pretty nice dances.
He's doing really good at dancing. He's kind of a showboater, a little bit.
I'm also the fastest seventh grader, so everyone expects me to win every race. But sometimes I won't win, and I feel they will just be disappointed if I come in second.
So you feel the pressure to win?
Rate yourself in terms of looks out of a hundred.
He's, like, 100% popular.
Yeah, he's, like, the most popular guy in school.
Now, are you sensitive about the fact that you're slender?
I don't notice that I'm that skinny, but other people do.
Sometimes people call you skinny, and that hurts your feelings.
There's a whole bunch of shirts that says, "I can't. I'm Mormon." I'm going to get a shirt that says, "I won't. I'm Mormon."