As everyone probably knows by now, the Seattle Seahawks will face the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVII on February 2, 2014. And most of you football fans know that the Seahawks were led to victory yesterday by Russell Wilson, their young African-American quarterback. But what will likely come as news to many is the family legacy of excellence that Wilson is continuing and building upon. NY Times columnist Bill Rhoden tells the impressive story of Wilson’s family in an article found here.
Russell Wilson is the son of the late Harrison Benjamin Wilson III (Harry), an attorney who died in 2010 at age 55 from complications of diabetes. Russell’s grandfather, Harrison Benjamin Wilson, Jr. was the men’s basketball coach and an assistant football coach at Jackson State in the 1950s, and went on to become president of Norfolk State. President Wilson had three sons, all of whom went to the New England prep school Wilbraham and then onto Dartmouth, where they played varsity football. Russell’s father Harry went on to University of Virginia law school and practiced law in Richmond Virginia, where Russell grew up. Ben Wilson, Harry’s brother, graduated from Harvard Law School and practises in Washington DC. As the NY Times article explains, Ben has stepped into his late brother’s shoes to encourage and support Russell’s professional development.
While Russell was encouraged by his family to consider Dartmouth and recruited by Duke, his choice of North Carolina State allowed him to seriously pursue two college sports, football and baseball, and enabled his impressive football skills to be properly showcased. He was drafted by the Seahawks in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft, and won the starting quarterback position as a rookie.
What is clear from this article as well as others about the Wilson family (found here and here) is that they’ve demonstrated a committment to excellence, both academic and athletic, which is now three generations strong. And it does not stop with Russell: his older brother Harrison IV also played football and baseball in college, at Richmond; sister Anna is a basketball star who verbally committed to Stanford as a high school sophomore.
Russell has told his Seahawk teammates that when he was young his father encouraged him to consider and be ready for the possibilities which lie ahead, and would ask him “Why not you, Russ? Why not you?” What a great question to pose to our boys.
So as you watch Super Bowl XLVII in a few weeks be sure to tell your sons about how Russell Wilson is carrying on an impressive family tradition of excellence. Whether you are a Seahawks or a Broncos fan, you’ve got to give him props for that.