CHARLOTTE – Bryce Young gazed out into the sea of reporters, cameras, and lights for his first press conference in Bank of America Stadium, showing off the signature poise that helped him earn the No. 1 selection in this year's NFL draft.
Stationed in front-row seats with matching Carolina caps atop their heads, Craig and Julie Young watched their son field questions about his newest chapter.
The draft process brought their family together, Julie said. And their closeness played a role in the mental toughness that makes Bryce Young, well, Bryce Young.
Bryce would want you to know the smile he shows when he's asked about his parents isn't something new. Their grins, their comfort, and their obvious bond have been apparent since he was a young boy growing up in California.
Those three are a unit, and they helped mold the confidence of Carolina's quarterback of the future.
"These are moments that (are) forever and are being more publicized, but they've been there doing that exact same thing, having that exact same look on their face throughout the entirety of my life," Bryce said. "From the times that things were going well, and at the times they weren't, through the ups and downs, and when no one else was around or cared, they still had that exact same energy.
"I'm grateful to have them. I definitely wouldn't be here without them."
Bryce Young carries a long track record of success to his NFL career. He was a consensus top prospect out of high school, won the Heisman Trophy in his first year as a starter at Alabama, and impressed throughout an arduous pre-draft process.
The son of a mental health professional and teacher, Bryce doesn't come from the kind of background that placed pressure on his success. The Youngs are rooted in faith, and they sought to keep from harping on their son's athletic performance. They rarely discuss his own football games other than to say he did a "great job."
The awards, accolades, and Thursday's top selection weren't a main priority. They were a result of Bryce's "intrinsic motivation," as Craig put it, and a reflection of the family's faith.
"We always have the same prayer, even when he was young, that his performance glorifies God," Craig said. "Whatever happens after is a manifestation of that. But it was never about your performance for material gain, or for a claim, or for popularity. He wanted to do this so he could glorify God. And that's always been our enduring prayer."
Craig, a licensed therapist, said he always wanted his child to have a solid two-parent household where the mother and father were aligned in values and parenting strategies. Craig and Julie sought to "empower" Bryce in his childhood, building him up and supporting his endeavors.
Julie joked that Bryce inherited her "hyper" nature when he was young, and much of her son's athleticism came from the search for an outlet to let go of his energy. He was always laid back and easy-going, but he'd also jump on the furniture.
Once Bryce got into sports, Julie was the kind of parent who enjoyed staying around practice just to be around her son. It was natural for the three of them to be close, but she enjoyed being around her son at any opportunity.
"Especially things outside of school, and in school, we would just attend everything," Julie said. "We would do everything together. Even when we go to practices, I would go. I remember I had a friend ask me, like, 'Why don't you just drop him off and leave?' And I was like, 'No, I'll stay. We all have to be together.'"
The Young family bonds over basketball, music, and food. Bryce is open about his passion for basketball and says one of his favorite childhood memories involved a trip to Bethel High School in Virginia, where Allen Iverson played, for a tournament.
Bryce said he was, of course, a big Iverson fan, but his parents were especially nostalgic about the trip, and hearing his parents' stories about watching him play is something that stuck with him.
"They get nostalgic a lot," Bryce said. "That's one of the moments now that sits with me. Even though we were so far away (from California), just still us all being together at the same time, experiencing something that was really cool. It was a lot of fun."
Bryce said he's often sending Craig current rap artists to keep his father in the loop, and Julie said her son will always ask his parents about what they had for dinner. The Youngs are all "foodies," and Bryce's favorites are sushi and poke.
"We're just a normal family," Bryce said. "If you were to hear our conversations, they're just like everyone else's. I think it's really cool that we can have that dynamic. Obviously, it's a huge part of my life. They're so loving, supportive, accepting."
View photos of Bryce Young's arrival to Charlotte.
The family's togetherness throughout Bryce's upbringing caused him to model his parents' traits – even if he isn't the one to tell them about it. He said one of the top things he learned from his parents is empathy, both because of his mother's work with children in education and through his father's profession in mental health.
Craig and Julie said it felt like every time they'd go to an event at Alabama, they'd hear a random story about Bryce showing kindness. They said they've heard about him visiting sick children at a hospital, calling someone through a tough time, or visiting to make someone feel good.
Craig said Bryce would never tell them himself, and they'd just find out from others – smiling when they retell the stories.
"I mean, all families love their kids, but I think he's just a cool kid," Julie said. "I enjoy him, and I like him, and we all get along really well. You know, not all families do. I think it's a special unit that we have."
For all the talk about Bryce Young's confidence, poise, and calm demeanor in high-stakes football moments or pressurized off-field obligations, the roots are fairly simple to find.
In his inaugural Charlotte media appearance, they were in the front row, gazing up at their son, an NFL quarterback, with pride in their eyes.
And Bryce would give them plenty of credit.
"They were always there, through the ups and the downs," Bryce said. "That allowed me to be comfortable with trying things and not fear failing, also knowing that I didn't need any approval. I didn't need any validation. I knew that my parents would be there regardless. I didn't feel like I was pressured or entitled to do anything I didn't feel like.
"Their love for me was never circumstantial. I knew that, whatever it was, they would be there for me. I think that allowed me to grow in myself, to be secure, and not seek that approval. … Those are lessons that I've carried throughout my life, not just on the field, but off as well."
Check out photos of Young on the team's custom photo set with his parents at Bank of America Stadium on Friday of draft week.