My father passed away in 2010. He never got to see me play an NFL game or win the Super Bowl in person, but I know that he was watching. People ask me all the time, “Russell, if you could do one thing in the world, what would it be?” I’ve been blessed to be able to do a lot of fun and amazing things in my 26 years on this earth, but the one thing I wish I could do above all else is to see my father smile again.
What I love to remember about my father has nothing to do with a football field or a baseball diamond, although he spent countless hours driving me to Pop Warner and Little League games when I was a kid. What I remember about Harrison B. Wilson III is how much we laughed and smiled on the journey to those places. Every single morning, when my alarm goes off and I roll out of bed and get into my car to drive to the practice facility or a workout, I put on Earth, Wind & Fire or Michael Jackson or The Supremes on the stereo. I think about how my father used to play those songs in the car on our long drives and sing along.
Man he used to sing.
On those drives, he would fill me with so much encouragement and enthusiasm for the game. And for life. I was never nervous, because he was so positive no matter what happened. When I was young, he was the coach of our YMCA basketball team. We were the Lakers. We ended up winning the championship, and I just remember how he was smiling from ear to ear as all the kids were jumping around like we just won an NBA title.
I think about that memory a lot now. Because the thing is, he would have had that same smile on his face even if we had lost.
I know that I will have a big family one day, and if I can be 1/16th of the dad my father was to me, I know I will be an unbelievable dad. I will try to motivate my kids the way he motivated me and teach them that they can really, truly do anything. He used to tell me this thing all the time … He would say, “Russell, take all the grains of sand in the seven seas and multiply them by 10,000 and you will only have a mere fraction of my love for you.” My father wasn’t perfect just like any other human being, but whenever he was in a room, he brought life to the whole place. He was the best man I’ve ever known.
Today, I’m thinking about him and the effect he had on everyone around him. And I’m singing along to some soul tunes like I know he would be.
Thank you for everything, dad. I love you.