Growing up was not easy for Harwell, nor his family, but UCLA’s starting sophomore defensive tackle shows no signs of bitterness or resentment for what he had to overcome. He is a superb student, a star in the making on the football field, humble and quiet. But he believes he did not miss out on much growing up, and one day hopes to care for a mother deemed unfit to care for him. The family car was cramped, but Brigham Harwell, his two younger brothers and his mom called it home for a bit. Later, the foster home provided shelter and food, but being detached from his family caused mental anguish for Harwell until his older brother, Joe Williams, stepped in and became his legal guardian. “I think about where I’m at now, and I can’t even describe it. It’s a long time coming,” Harwell said. “I don’t know how I made it. It’s help from family and friends. Without my brother, Joe, I believe I wouldn’t be here right now.” Harwell sprained his right ankle last Saturday against Cal, but expects to play this weekend. It is no surprise Harwell rebounded so quickly, because he has been doing it for many of his 20 years. It was difficult, Harwell recalls, because his parents divorced when he was in the fourth grade. He has six brothers and two sisters, and remembers his mother, Ruby, exhausting every option to provide for the family. But the expenses became too high, the burden too expansive. Harwell said by the time he was in sixth grade, his mom couldn’t afford to pay the rent, so Brigham, younger brothers Brent and Byron, and his mom began living in the car. “We would sleep in the car and wouldn’t eat for a day. There were times when things were rough. It was like, ‘Man, this is a reality check,’ ” Harwell said. “Now, I’m living it up. Living on my own, in a dorm. It’s great, but back then, I look back and I didn’t know if I was going to eat one day, or sleep or shower.” Harwell said he and his brothers showered at friends’ houses, and went to the library after school to do homework because there was no light in the car at night. The state got word of the situation, and declared Ruby an unfit mother, Harwell said. According to Williams, who is 34, Ruby suffers from “mental issues.” Harwell’s father, David, lives in Fort Wayne, Ind. The older siblings were out of high school, some in college. Brigham, Brent and Byron were placed in foster care. Williams visited regularly, and planned to become their guardian. But he and his wife, Jamila, who have four kids, were raising their own family, and the resources weren’t in place to add. So Harwell went to foster care for most of seventh and eighth grades. Harwell said he didn’t see his younger brothers much, but that started to change when Williams, a bank manager, gained custody of Brigham before his freshman year at Los Altos High of Hacienda Heights. The Williamses gave Harwell a structured family unit. Joe said Brigham did whatever it took to chip in. He would cut grass in the summer to earn money, and was a baby-sitter for his now 5-year-old nephew, Jeremey, who is autistic. But after two years at Los Altos, the Williamses moved into a bigger home in Chino Hills. Harwell, though, was fitting in at Los Altos, and didn’t want to transfer. That’s when a neighbor, who worked in the Hacienda Heights area, stepped in. The neighbor made the one-hour drive each day to drop off and pick up Harwell at Los Altos. Through all of this, Harwell, who said he had very little contact with his parents during high school, never was in trouble, and maintained a B average in school. Things are falling into place for Harwell. The Williamses became guardians of younger brothers Brent and Byron, now 16 and 15, respectively. Harwell’s dad attended the Sept. 10 game against Rice. Also, after being out of contact with his mom for a while, Harwell got her phone number about a month ago, and the two talk every weekend. Ruby is living in a hotel in Arcadia, and the family remains fond of her. “We still love our mom, but right now there’s nothing we can do,” Williams said. “Brigham says, ‘That motivates me to do something, to help my mom.’ ” UCLA NOTES: UCLA and Texas reached agreement to play a two-year series, beginning in 2010 at Royal-Texas Stadium. The Longhorns will play at the Rose Bowl in 2011. It will be the first meeting between the teams since the Bruins beat the Longhorns 49-31 in 1998. UCLA’s last trip to Austin, Texas, resulted in a 66-3 thrashing of the Longhorns in 1997. Overall, the series is tied 2-2. … Strong safety Chris Horton had the pins removed from hisinjured wrist and Dorrell said he expected the sophomore to play next week against Oregon State. … Dorrell said Wednesday’s practice, complete with piped in crowd noise, “might have been our best practice of the year right there.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!