Who Is Russell Wilson?
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Russell Wilson was a multi-sport star in high school. Despite an outstanding collegiate career at NC State and Wisconsin, the 5'11" quarterback was considered too small by many NFL teams. Nevertheless, Wilson quickly became an elite pro quarterback and led the Seattle Seahawks to a Super Bowl victory in just his second season.
Russell Carrington Wilson was born on November 29, 1988, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and grew up in Richmond, Virginia. The second of three children born to Harrison III, a former NFL prospect turned lawyer, and Tammy, a legal nurse consultant, Wilson honed his athletic skills through competitions with his older brother, Harry.
Wilson starred for the baseball, basketball and football teams at Richmond's Collegiate School. He was named conference player of the year as a senior quarterback, capping the season by throwing a pair of touchdowns and rushing for 223 yards and three more scores in the state title game victory.
College and NFL Draft
Wilson became the first freshman quarterback to earn all-ACC first team honors at North Carolina State University, but his desire to continue playing baseball put him at odds with coach Tom O'Brien. After Wilson was drafted by Major League Baseball's Colorado Rockies in 2010, he butted heads with O’Brien over his decision to attend spring training with the Rockies in 2011. The quarterback decided to transfer to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for his final year of collegiate eligibility.
Wilson enjoyed an outstanding senior year, leading the Badgers to the Big 10 conference title while setting an NCAA record for passing efficiency. Despite his successes and obvious athletic ability, the 5'11" Wilson was considered by many to be too small for the NFL. He was selected by the Seattle Seahawks with the 75th overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, after five other quarterbacks.
Pro Football Stardom
Although the Seahawks already featured veteran quarterbacks in Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson, Wilson impressed coach Pete Carroll with his maturity and claimed the starting job. While leading Seattle to a five-game winning streak to close out the season, Wilson ran for three touchdowns in Week 14 and threw for four more the following week. He finished with a rookie-record-tying 26 touchdown passes and was voted the NFL.com Rookie of the Year.
The following season, Wilson spurred the Seahawks to wins in 11 of their first 12 games and the NFC West title. The 25-year-old then delivered a pair of touchdown passes in a lopsided 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, making him just the fourth quarterback to win a Super Bowl in his second season.
“Sometimes I think I’m made for these situations. I just try to do be prepared for us. When you're prepared, you're never scared. You just go. You trust your teammates, you trust the guys you have around you, you trust the preparation, you trust that the ball's going to bounce your way.”
The Seahawks were just 3-3 after Week 7 of the 2014 season, but the ever-steady quarterback helped spark a six-game win streak to clinch a second consecutive NFC West crown. Wilson then got off to an uncharacteristically poor start in the NFC title game vs. the Green Bay Packers, but he helped erase a 12-point deficit with just over two minutes to go, and threw the game-winning touchdown in overtime.
The first quarterback to start two Super Bowls in his first three seasons, Wilson came up just short in his bid for a second championship with a loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.
New Contracts and More Success
Having already proven one of the game's top young players, Wilson agreed to a four-year deal worth a reported $87.6 million before the start of the 2015 NFL season.
He lived up to the expectations, throwing for a career-high 34 touchdowns and leading the NFL with a 110.1 passer rating in 2015, though the Seahawks lost in the playoffs to the Carolina Panthers. The following season brought a similar outcome, with the QB recording a career-best 4,219 passing yards before the team was dispatched in the second weekend of the playoffs.
Seattle fell short of the postseason altogether in 2017, and things weren't expected to be much better for the rebuilding team in 2018. However, the Seahawks managed to win 10 games and return to the playoffs thanks to the sterling play of Wilson, who set personal bests with 35 touchdowns thrown and a 110.9 passer rating.
Seattle subsequently rewarded its franchise quarterback with a four-year contract extension worth $140 million, making him the highest-paid player in the NFL at the time. He followed with another excellent season in 2019, completing more than 66 percent of his passes and throwing for 31 touchdowns against just five interceptions, resulting in his first AP All-Pro selection.
In 2012 Russell Wilson married his high school sweetheart, Ashton Meem, but they split in 2014. The football star then struck up a relationship with singer Ciara, and they married on July 6, 2016. Their daughter, Sienna Princess Wilson, was born on April 28, 2017. The son, Win Harrison Wilson, was born on July 23, 2020. Ciara also has a son, Future Zahir Wilburn, from a previous relationship.
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