Now here's one of those stories that toes the line between cute human interest piece and awkward stalker story: Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick has an estranged birth mother who spends her Sundays watching her boy from the stands, hoping he will make eye contact with her and the two will finally be reunited after 25 years apart. Until that happens though, she'll just keep awkwardly tweeting at him.
After putting up her son for adoption when she was just 19, 44-year-old Heidi Russo of Denver, Colorado, first saw her son take snaps when his college team from the University of Nevada came to play Colorado State. "I kept looking at him, thinking our eyes might meet," Russo told Yahoo Sports. "He might finally see me. I kept thinking it happened, but he never came to see me after the game."
Kaepernick was raised by his parents Rick and Teresa of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin — folks former teammate Virgil Green of the Denver Broncos called "truly wonderful people" after Teresa gave him a hug one time. Russo readily admits that she may not have been able to provide for her son as well as the Kaepernicks did, but she defends her decision because she didn't give him to the one couple that wanted to adopt him and put him in the theater to play piano. Russo's father lived in the same Wisconsin town as the Kaepernicks and for a time she also found herself hoping to run into the couple whenever she came to visit. When Colin was young, Mrs. Kaepernick would even send photos and letters to Russo until those stopped when he was about six or seven years old.
Fast forward to Colin's college days, when a friend encouraged Russo to reach out to her son on the Internet, where she messaged him on MySpace. Although he initially responded with a some questions about his biological father, Colin never returned subsequent calls and messages. Since January of last year, however, Russo has devoted her Twitter account to sending her son public messages of encouragement on everything from scouting sessions to his current level of body fat:
@kaepernick10 Wow!!! Probably 4 or 5%? Keep workin' hard Colin!— Heidi Russo (@heidirn1) January 13, 2011
@kaepernick10 Have been watching you practice this week; nice job! Reviews are great! Nice interview! Keep workin' hard, it's paying off!— Heidi Russo (@heidirn1) January 26, 2011
@kaepernick10 Nice article! Keep doing what you're doing! Stay focused on your dream! The rest will fall into place. Love you!— Heidi Russo (@heidirn1) January 27, 2011
CONGRATULATIONS COLIN!!!! QB FOR THE 49ERS!! I LOVE YOU!!— Heidi Russo (@heidirn1) April 29, 2011
Huge congrats to @kaepernick7 getting the start on Sunday! Look forward to it! You're always in my heart!— Heidi Russo (@heidirn1) November 29, 2012
As for the Kaepernicks who raised him, Russo says she met with Teresa and Rick for the first time in 25 years before a preseason game in Denver. Colin himself, however, didn't make an effort to greet his biological mother. Russo, who watches every game her son plays in, explains: "Until he tells me otherwise, I'll continue supporting him." On twitter, that is.