- Heidi Russo, 44, gave her son up for adoption in Wisconsin in 1987
- Kaepernick, whose career is going from strength to strength with the San Francisco team, was adopted by Rick and Teresa Kaepernick
By JAMES NYE and LOUISE BOYLE
PUBLISHED: 11:48 EST, 5 December 2012 | UPDATED: 11:48 EST, 5 December 2012
The biological mother of star quarterback Colin Kaepernick has expressed her longing for a relationship with the son she gave up for adoption 25 years ago.
Heidi Russo, 44, a nurse in Denver, made the heart-wrenching decision to place her baby in the care of the Kaepernick family back in 1987.
Colin now plays for the San Francisco 49ers and is fast becoming one to watch on the field. After getting his first NFL start against the Chicago Bears during Monday Night Football last month, Kaepernick scored two touchdowns, massacring the Bears’ tough defense and drawing high praise from the 49ers head coach.
Ms Russo has been following her son’s growing celebrity status from the stands at football matches but longs for a deeper relationship with him and often comments on his Twitter profile.
She regularly congratulates him on his success on the football field and even bizarrely on his diminishing body fat.
Kaepernick tweeted last year: ‘Body fat just taken and I’m at 7%… Let’s see where I end at’.
Ms Russo quickly responded: ‘Wow!!! Probably 4 or 5%? Keep workin’ hard Colin!’
Although she has had contact with Colin in the past, her son seems reluctant to build a relationship. Colin was born on November 3, 1987 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Ms Russo. He was adopted at six weeks’ old by Rick and Teresa Kaepernick from Fond Du Lac and has two siblings.
As he grew up, the Kaepernicks sent Ms Russo pictures of Colin until contact fell away when he was around seven years old.
Ms Russo’s desire for a relationship has not so far been reciprocated by Colin. When she initially emailed him as an adult, the footballer sent a few messages asking about his father with whom Ms Russo has had no contact since her son’s birth.
She met with the Kaepernick family three months ago when the Niners played the Denver Broncos but has had little interaction since.
Ms Russo, who now has an eight-year-old son, told Mercury News: ‘If and when he changes his mind – he may never change his mind – I’ll watch him from home. When I have a chance to get out to a game, I’ll watch him from there.’
She has respected his wishes, adding: ‘I made my call on Colin a long time ago. I have to live with that.’
Kaepernick, who played college football with the Nevada Wolf Pack, was dragged into a racial controversy last week after a white sports columnist compared the tattooed player to residents of San Quentin state prison.
Sporting News writer David Whitley penned an article where he bemoaned the amount of tattoos that 25-year-old Kaepernick had on his body.
Claiming that the position of quarterback is hallowed and Kaepernick’s body art brings it down in tone, Whitley said that because of his tattoos, the 49ers player can never be a legitimate hero.
But he later defended himself against accusations of racism, saying: ‘If they were old enough to read, my two adopted African-American daughters would certainly be disappointed to find out I’m a racist.’
“It didn’t occur to me that admitting I’m not a fan of body art would be admitting I don’t like African-Americans.’
The furious response overwhelmed Whitley, who had to fend off accusations of racial profiling, prompting his editor-in-chief to take the unusual step of writing a defence of the opinion piece in which he admitted Whitley could have finessed certain points.
Whitley, who is the father of two adopted African-American daughters, was even criticised by Kaepernick’s parents – who revealed that his tattoos are in fact verses from the Bible.
‘It annoyed me,’ said his mother Teresa Kaepernick.’You are categorizing this kid on something like tattoos? Really? ‘Saying other guys are role models because they don’t have them? Really?
Some of these other guys don’t have crystal clear reputations. That’s how you’re going to define this kid? It’s pretty irritating is what it is.’
Colin’s father Rick said that Whitley should have focused on his son’s charity work and not his body art.
‘This guy has probably never talked to Colin,’ Rick said. ‘Instead of saying that Colin does all these great things and donates his time to children, this guy is going to make him out like a gangster. ‘Really? I guess you just have to roll with the punches.’
He added: ‘Somebody asked me if I got mad about that. I said no. It’s just a guy and his opinion. I could have an opinion about him, but I’ve never met the guy, so I don’t know if my opinion would be right.‘