When athleticism runs in a family, it often goes beyond favorable genetics alone.
Take Phillip Dorsett II and his older sister, Briana Dorsett-Moore. He’s a Patriots receiver; she’s a bodybuilder who recently qualified to compete in the Professional League of the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness’s bikini division.
Both Dorsetts were blessed with natural gifts, DNA that instructed their bodies to hold solid muscle on top of lean, fast frames, but also with a family that gave them ready-made training buddies and lifelong supporters who understand and share the drive to be the best.
“I always tell my parents that the greatest gift that you ever gave both of us is each other,” Dorsett-Moore said.
They grew up in South Florida, playing catch and touch football in the yard, or shooting hoops in the driveway, Dorsett-Moore always running to fetch rebounds, after school and practice.
Their father, Phillip Dorsett Sr., coached them both in track from their youth teams to high school, so whatever happened on any given day in practice came home with the family that evening.
One day, Dorsett-Moore “caught an attitude” with her father during track practice, and he threatened to kick her off the team. She started to walk off the field when he called her back and said she could stay, but that she’d be running laps the rest of the afternoon.
She did, but still got a talking-to in the truck on the way home. Phillip, 2½ years younger than his sister, giggled in the backseat the whole time.
As Phillip grew up, played college football at the University of Miami and then in the NFL, his sister continued her own athletic career. She was a cheerleader at Florida International, where one day a teammate told her she had the right body type for bodybuilding.
The teammate assumed Dorsett-Moore was already involved in the sport, and when she said she wasn’t, encouraged her to check it out.
She did some research but initially felt that she’d need to put on more muscle than she wanted to. The following year, IFBB introduced its “bikini division,” where the judges reward looks that are muscular but still feminine, and Dorsett-Moore thought it looked right for her.
She started competing as an amateur in 2016. This past May, she earned her IFBB Pro Card by placing second overall at the NPC Junior USA Championships. She’ll step on her first pro stage sometime this spring, once football season is over.
“I like the fact that since I’m not an actual college athlete anymore, I still train for competitions like I would train for a track meet,” Dorsett-Moore said. “Any time I go in the gym and I’m with my trainer, Chris, he pushes me like my dad used to push me back in the days when I was running track. It still gives me that competitive edge.”
It also makes Dorsett-Moore, who’s a personal trainer by trade and is getting a nutrition certification when she’s not competing, a great workout partner for her brother.
During bye weeks and in the offseason, they train together. Three or four times a week they go to the Sweatbox — their name for Dorsett-Moore’s garage-turned-gym — crank the music, and get after it. There’s a squat rack, two sets of Olympic bars, a bench, dumbbell sets going up to 50 pounds, a treadmill, and an array of resistance bands and medicine balls.
“It is nice because, I wouldn’t say she’s more dedicated to her craft than me, but I would say we’re similar when it comes to it because she’s really strict when it comes to her working out and doing what she needs to do to get herself in the certain shape she needs to be in,” Dorsett said. “She’s tough.”
Tom Brady would be happy to hear that the resistance bands are Dorsett’s favorite. They usually do their own individual workouts, Dorsett bringing a binder with prescribed exercises from the Patriots’ strength and conditioning staff. Dorsett-Moore designs her own, or goes off what her coach Loleta Riley gives her.
“Bodybuilding is different. Their stuff is crazy,” Dorsett said. “They’ll do, like, five sets of 15 and stuff like that where we’ll do, like, four sets of three with heavy weight. It’s different. But we teach each other things and it’s great.”
Occasionally, Dorsett will ask Dorsett-Moore to design a workout and she’ll write it out on the whiteboard in the Sweatbox.
Dorsett-Moore plans her brother’s meals during the offseason, too. They’re designed to help him keep the muscle he has in-season for the entire year. One example of a meal plan she’d make for him would be a Smoothie of almond milk and whey protein right after a workout, then a full meal of jasmine rice, ground bison, and broccoli 30 minutes or an hour later.
Their bond is not built on just training tips and packing in protein, though. They’re family, and they also share an understanding of the mind-set of a professional athlete.
Plus, they actually don’t tear each other’s hair out. As siblings, they’ve always tended to be more supportive than competitive.
One of Dorsett-Moore’s favorite stories about her brother comes from a time when he was looking out for her even when, technically, he did the opposite of what she asked him to. Their parents had a set of white plastic lawn chairs they’d put out on the patio when they had company. One day, the two Dorsett kids were playing outside and Briana flipped one of the chairs upside-down and stood on top of it.
“We were acting like we were sailing somewhere,” she said. “I was like, ‘I’m the captain of the ship.’ ”
She lost her footing, though, and cut herself badly on the chest on the way down. She told Dorsett not to tell their mother because they’d get in trouble for playing with the furniture and he promised he wouldn’t. Later that evening, though, he saw her still wincing in pain from the cut.
“He leaves the room, he comes back in the room, and all I hear is my mom call my name, ‘Briana come here!’ I looked at him and he looked straight ahead like, ‘She didn’t call me! She called you!’ ” Dorsett-Moore said.
She got a mild scolding, then returned to confront Dorsett for telling on her.
“He was just like, ‘But I saw you hurting and you didn’t tell mom so she could make you better,’ ” Dorsett-Moore said.
The days of fooling around with the furniture are gone. But getting better, and helping each other do so, is still part of the foundation of this brother-sister bond.