Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson penned an open letter to his younger sister, Anna. And as Anna graduates high school this week, the NFL’er penned a letter to her for The Players’ Tribune. Below is an excerpt:
I remember when you were three or four years old, you and Dad used to play basketball in the cul-de-sac in front of our house every morning. That was the thing you shared. He was teaching you how to do reverse layups on that little hoop before you were even in kindergarten. I remember watching, stunned at how good you were. Remember how you used to dribble the ball through the house and drive everybody crazy? I do.
I always knew you had great things ahead of you, but I didn’t realize just how great until my second year in Seattle, when you came to town and we played one-on-one at the Bellevue Club gym. You had grown a little taller. I could tell your crossover was a little quicker. But I mean, come on. I’m Big Bro. I’m a pro athlete. You’re 15.
I started the game going like, 75%. (We had a big Monday Night Football game coming up.)
And you smoked me. By the time it was 7–1, I was going all-out. But it wasn’t helping. Next thing I know, you’re crossing me up, blowing by me, going straight to the basket and I had to foul you.
I’ll never forget you screaming, “And-one! You can’t take me!”
I turned around and there’s like 100 people watching, pulling out their phones. My baby sister, putting me on an And1 mixtape. That’s when I knew you were going to be something special.
It’s amazing how fast the time goes by. I can’t believe that you graduate from high school today. I’m so happy to see you go off to Stanford to play basketball, and live out all your hopes and dreams. You and I both know that it hasn’t been easy. For you to accomplish everything you have accomplished after losing Dad at such a young age is nothing short of incredible. You are as tough and as smart as they come.
I mean this from the bottom of my heart — you inspire me.
When you and Mom came out to live in Seattle with me last year, I got to see how hard you worked, and how much Mom pushed you to achieve your dreams. I watched you wake up every morning at 5:30 to go to the gym to practice before school. I watched you study for tests into the wee hours of the morning. And I watched you do it all with a smile and a sense of humor.
I will admit it. You punked me pretty bad with your little football prank a few months ago. When I ran out into the backyard and saw you face down and crying with a “broken nose,” I really thought Mom was never going to let me hear the end of it. My baby sister going down on my watch? I was freaking out. There was blood everywhere. You had the crocodile tears just perfect.
Turns out it was just Heinz ketchup. You deserve props for your acting skills. I thought for sure we were going to the emergency room. Never lose that sick sense of humor. Never lose your joy for life.
As someone who has already been through college, I can’t tell you everything. That’s for you to figure out on your own. But I can tell you this …
When you get to school, there will be a lot of people who want to see you succeed and be a positive force in your life.
But some people will try to get in the way of your joy. That’s life. You need to figure out how to live with an open heart in spite of those people. Sometimes that’s harder than it looks.
Today, I’ll get to see you graduate from high school as a strong, independent, competitive, compassionate young woman — on your way to one of the best schools in the world on a full scholarship.