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James Brown's Road to Becoming NFL Host

As a high school basketball star, James Brown dreamed of a pro career. He didn't reach the NBA, but did he make to CBS Sports as host of "The NFL Today."

Brown, who took some unlikely detours along the road to success, sat down with Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith on Thursday to share his story and his new book, "Role of a Lifetime."

At the time, being a high school basketball star came along with its pressures from both colleges and from within himself, Brown admitted.

Although Brown loved the fact that so many coaches were trying to recruit him, he also didn't want to disappoint anybody.

So, he took advice from his high school coach and told all the colleges he went to visit that he was 99 percent sure he would attend -- even if there wasn't any interest.

Ultimately, Brown decided to go to Harvard.

"The lessons driven home by mom and dad, God bless them, (they have both passed away) saying that education was the foundational key for success in the game of life, number one. That was the first thing. Number two, Senator Bill Bradley was a real hero of mine," he said.

Inspired by Bradley, who attended Princeton, Brown hoped that he would enjoy the same atheletic and academic success as his mentor.

However, Brown admitted that he "didn't work as hard to stay on top" as he did "to get to the top." He added "so many truths in athletics that apply in the game of life."

"How much of a disappointment was that for you and were you ready for it?" Smith asked.

"Oh, you talk about not making the pros? Are you kidding me? I cried, stayed home, hid in the house for two week because I thought I was a complete failure," Brown admitted. "I had no idea that the athletic rug would figuratively be snatched from up under my feet that quickly, but I realized what was important for success in the game of life."

Part of the lesson that Brown learned was "to always work hard, to never ever be ill-prepared for an opportunity that comes your way."

Brown said there is nothing "new and sexy" about obtaining success, it's just that "the old school values work," plain and simple.

"I think consistent with the title, 'Role of a Lifetime,' it's finding out what your passion is, what your strengths are, especially in a team-oriented environment and play that role well and that will contribute to the success of the team," Brown said.