On the day of McDonald’s All-American Anna Wilson’s graduation from Bellevue (Wash.) High, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson penned a heartfelt letter to his little sister for The Players’ Tribune.
“I mean this from the bottom of my heart,” said the Super Bowl-winning QB, “you inspire me.”
Beginning his letter with the story of how he left the house at age 9 with a baseball glove and after a detour to the hospital instead came home with a little sister, Russell shared memories of Anna as a toddler learning to play basketball with their father, who died in 2010; the time she pranked her older brother by using a ketchup packet to simulate blood in a very faux Marcia Brady moment during a game of football toss; and the moment he knew his younger sister would be a future Division I women’s basketball player:
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!”
Both Anna and their mother Tammy moved from Richmond, Va., to the Seattle area for her final prep season. She averaged 15.3 points, 4.6 assists and 3.2 steals per game, leading Bellevue to the program’s first Class 3A state championship in the shadow of her older brother’s run to the NFC divisional round.
“It’s amazing how fast the time goes by,” Russell wrote in The Players’ Tribune piece. “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.”
Russell and his girlfriend, Grammy Award-winning singer Ciara, attended Tuesday’s graduation ceremony. “Proud Of You,” Ciara wrote on Instagram. “You Inspire Me. There Is No Cooler Experience Than Seeing A Loving, Intelligent, Beautiful Young Girl, Pursuing Her Dreams and Making Things Happen!”
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Proud Of You @aplusw3. You Inspire Me. There Is No Cooler Experience Than Seeing A Loving, Intelligent, Beautiful Young Girl, Pursuing Her Dreams and Making Things Happen! May You Have The Most Incredible Journey At #Stanford and Take The World By Storm! I know You Will! Love You ❤️ #ClassOf2016 #GirlPower 🎓
Anna will enroll at Stanford this fall and join a Cardinal women’s team that reached the Sweet 16 in 2015. Needless to say, Russell finished, “You turned out to be way cooler than a new baseball glove.”