Launchpad from the Border
Del Rio native Crystal McBrady with Brother Joe, a longtime Del Rio pastor, at Sidney Blanks’s celebration of life in Sidney Blanks Park
Del Rio has long served as a launchpad for people who have been connected to the region. Many have made an impact in the most unlikely places under some of the most unique circumstances. For instance, as fate would have it, the Blanks/July family has produced three athletes who were drafted into and competed in three of the five major league sports in America: Sidney Blanks in the NFL, Larvell Blanks in the MLB, and Lance Blanks in the NBA. Their success is a reflection of others who have brought both national and regional attention to the area through their excellence, determination and imagination.
Another trailblazer who calls Del Rio home is Crystal McBrady. Crystal McBrady is one of the area’s all-time success stories when it comes to launching her career after spending most of her youth in Del Rio. A descendant of the Blanks/July family, Crystal is Stella Blanks Garrett’s great granddaughter. Stella Blanks Garrett, Sid Blanks’s sister, was the owner and operator of the legendary Chicken Shack. The Chicken Shack, lost to a hundred-year flood in 1998, was long known as a community hub for music, food, table games, dancing and pool.
About her childhood in Del Rio, Crystal says that “family, friends and the entire community” raised her. After graduating from high school, she attended Texas A&M, a Power Five university, on an athletic scholarship, winning a track and field Big XII championship ring in 2007. Her resilience and Del Rio roots were evident in her ability to balance the arduous academic and athletic schedules of an elite NCAA student athlete while succeeding in both disciplines.
Crystal’s family roots and her time in Del Rio are important ingredients in her journey. She is quick to share that she “could feel the entire community behind me when I would compete.” After college, she went on to use her accomplishments and experiences to build a successful career in business.