His profession would be professional football.
But notwithstanding playing for the Sherman Park Bulldogs, winners of two Pop Warner NY State championships, his initial splash nationally was running track. Tyvon Branch could always run — scholastically for Nottingham and Cicero-North Syracuse, collegiately at Connecticut, in the NFL for Oakland, Kansas City and Arizona.
Tyvon ran track at Nottingham, then transferred to C-NS. In track, he was All-State, won the 100- and 200-yard dash in the state championships as a senior. Indoors, he won the National 60-meter dash (6.82 seconds), was 2nd in the 200, won the NYS 300, was 2nd in the 55-meter dash.
That is how you become the 2004 Gatorade Track Athlete of the Year!
Branch was also all-league in football as a running back at CNS and was invited to play in the annual New York-New Jersey game. Off to Storrs, Conn., he initially started on special teams, returning kickoffs, than moved into the secondary. He played in all 48 games for UConn … was a 2nd-team all-conference kick returner who, as a senior, led the Big East (28.9-yard avg.) and set a season mark with two kick returns for TDs … played in two bowl games plus the Hula Bowl, after UConn shared the Big East title.
In the 2008 NFL Draft, Branch was the 100th player selected, a 4th round pick by the Raiders. He became their strong safety, starting every game in 2009, making 124 stops (98 unassisted), forcing 2 fumbles. In 2012, Oakland put the franchise tag on Tyvon and he signed a 4-year/$26.6 million contract.
A free agent in 2015, he signed with Kansas City, was twice defensive player of the week and in his only two playoff games had a combined 10 tackles. In 2016, he inked a 2-year deal with Arizona for $8 million (making career earnings over $29 million). In his second season, he led the Cardinals in tackles and was the highest-rated NFL safety before being injured.
His best seasons: Oakland (2009-12) …396 tackles (298 solos) in 62 games, all starts. In a 10-year career, he played 106 games, had 616 tackles, 34 deflections. Retiring in 2017 at age 31, following season-ending surgery, he lives in Arizona. His family is here in Syracuse.
For more than a decade, he’s given back to Central New York — among the founders of the CNY Football Academy’s free camp … feeding 200 needy area families … and the ‘Branching Out Coat Giveaway’ in which he buys 400 winter coats for inner-city kids. And he was ranked at #33 among all-time Central New York athletes in a recent Post Standard poll.
Now, Tyvon Branch becomes a member of the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame, Class of 2021.