Seahawks' Wilson has deep family roots in DC area

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) --- "Russell is very intense, very competitive. Determined to succeed. He's on a relentless quest to get better."

Ben Wilson is managing partner at Beveridge and Diamond, an environmental law firm in downtown D.C. He describes his nephew, Russell Wilson, a second year quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. On Sunday Wilson will become the third black quarterback to reach the Super Bowl.

The Wilson family origins start in Mississippi. Currently, the quarterback has roots in the Chesapeake area, Richmond, Va. and the District.

Wilson grew up playing sports on the family condition that he would commit to his education. Private schools, Ivy League and post graduate studies were the norm within the family.

"And the truth is you didn't get to play the sports if you didn't do the academic work. And my parents were very serious about that," said Ben Wilson.

Russell's father, Harrison "Harry" Wilson, was a star wide receiver at Dartmouth. He was the last player cut in camp by the NFL's San Diego Chargers. He went on to attend law school at the University of Virginia and graduated president of his class.

"Harry taught Russell the game. But not only how to play the game, but how to respect the game," Ben Wilson said.

Had the Washington Redskins not traded up for Robert Griffin III, the team might have ended up with Russell Wilson. Before he set those records in the Univ. of Wisconsin, he had been at North Carolina State where he threw over 90 touchdowns.

Russell Wilson might have been a first round draft pick had he been taller than 5'10".

"What Russell will tell you is that he's been that height for all his life. It requires a certain determination. It requires him to change his game ever so slightly to accommodate what God has given him," said Ben Wilson.

When Russell's dad was losing his eye sight to diabetes, Ben Wilson would travel across the country to report on his nephew's games "play-by-play, down-by down."

Harry Russell died in 2010.

"Something my dad used to tell me, when I was younger, he used to always say, 'you know Russ, why not you?' And so I kind of translated that to 'why not us?'" Russell Wilson tells the press.

If the Seattle Seahawks win on Sunday, Wilson would be the second black quarterback to win the NFL championship game.


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