In his latest contribution to the Players' Tribune, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson focuses not on his NFL career, but rather on his younger sister, Anna, who graduates from high school on Tuesday.
Wilson begins his letter with an apology, admitting that as a 9-year old, he wasn't that thrilled with the idea of a younger sister, not when he was supposed to be getting a new baseball glove.
*But when we got to the hospital and I saw you open your eyes for the first time, everything changed. *
"I told Mom and Dad, "Look at her. She's so cool. I have my own baby now."
They laughed. After I held you for a while, Dad said, "All right, time to go to the store and get your glove."
* I said, "What? I'm not going anywhere. I'm staying right here."*
You won me over quick.
Wilson recalls seeing Anna and their father, Harrison, playing basketball when she was a young child, and he recounts the time he realized just how talented of an athlete his sister had become.
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.
Wilson also recounts his younger sister's practical jokes, tells her that she inspires him, then ends with a final message:
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.
Mom will be there. Remember to hug her tight for everything she's done for you, and for all the laughter and tears and late nights you've shared with her.
Our brother Harry, Grandma Carolyn, Uncle Ben, Aunt Merinda, Ciara and all the rest of our family will be there smiling.
But someone else will be there, too. He will be the proudest of all of us. Every time you hit a reverse layup, remember who taught you that move again and again and again out in the cul-de-sac.
You opened your own doors. Always play, always love and always lead with an open heart.
You turned out to be way cooler than a new baseball glove.
I love you,