Colin Kaepernick understands different perspectives. He lived in several different places growing up. He played multiple sports. And of course, he’s the biracial adopted son of white parents. In fact, if there’s anyone who brings a unique viewpoint to the table, it’s most certainly the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback.
Growing up, he faced many questions about why he didn’t look like his parents. He even heard more than a few sneers and racist comments. But for Kaepernick, that has only given him a more complete view of a world that he is trying to change.
Colin Kaepernick’s biological mother gave birth to him at age 19
Both diehard football fans and even casual observers associate Colin Kaepernick with kneeling during the national anthem. That maneuver initially intended to bring awareness to police brutality and racial inequality. That latter part rings home for Kaepernick, who has a truly unique upbringing that exposed him to very different worlds.
According to Rick Reilly of ESPN, Colin’s biological mother, Heidi Russo, gave birth to the future NFL star at the age of 19. Unmarried and without the financial resources to support her new baby, she cared for him for five weeks as she searched for the perfect parents to raise her son.
She picked another nurse, Teresa Kaepernick, and her husband, Rick. They had one request: they wanted a boy. They had two kids already — son Kyle and daughter Devon. But they’d lost two sons to heart defects, Lance and Kent, who would be 34 and 32 now.
Blessed with a family capable of supporting him in every way, a young Colin Kaepernick began to build his own life. From an early age, he displayed tantalizing athletic gifts. His family even referred to him as “Bo” as an ode to Bo Jackson. Of course, that didn’t stop other people from questioning why he didn’t look anything like his white parents.
He faced plenty of questions and racist comments growing up
Given his biracial heritage, Kaepernick obviously looked much different than his parents, Teresa and Rick. Unfortunately, people made sure to remind him of that going all the way back to his days as a kid. After relocating from Wisconsin to California, he faced many questions and racist comments. But as always, mom took care of that, according to Jon Becker of Mercury News.
“When adults were unaware of who my mother was at Little League Baseball games, it was her that gave a tongue-lashing to the parents in the stands speaking ill about the black child striking out all of their sons,” he said.
For Colin Kaepernick, he embraced the differences between him and his parents from an early age. According to the New York Times, he drew family portraits using a brown crayon for himself and yellow ones for his siblings and parents. He even laughed when his peers said there was no way Rick and Teresa could be his parents because of their skin color.
“We’ve always been really open about the adoption, and we were always very open about the skin colors,” Teresa Kaepernick said. “We pointed it out as a positive, and he saw his difference and was comfortable with it.”
Kaepernick sacrificed his career to bring racial inequality and police brutality issues to light
Ultimately, Colin Kaepernick’s upbringing as a biracial child adopted by white parents certainly played a major role in his view on the world. After all, the comments, questions, and doubts from kids and even adults helped him grow a thick skin. While he developed into a star football player, he gained more notoriety for taking a knee as a peaceful protest.
Somehow that cost him his NFL career. Yet, that hasn’t stopped the former 49ers quarterback from continuing to speak about the injustices that occur all across the United States. A true advocate for change, Kaepernick may be a lightning-rod figure for some, but he’s certainly been willing to sacrifice his own success and a ton of money to bring significant issues to light.
Colin Kaepernick threw his last NFL pass on New Year’s Day 2017. However, his dedication to social justice and ending police brutality has made him more powerful than he ever could have been as a football player. The biracial kid adopted by white parents has turned out to be the best example of never judging a book by its cover.