The Truth About Colin Kaepernick's Parents

Colin Kaepernick has been a worldwide symbol in the fight against racism for five years. But that status cost him a lot. In 2016, the former NFL player divided the nation when he knelt during the national anthem before a game to protest police brutality against Blacks in the country, an action that was seen by many as anti-nationalist. "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football," he said in a post-game interview, France 24 reported.

Colin continued to stage his silent protests, sparking a larger movement that reached the U.S. political ranks and drew ire even from then-President Donald Trump, according to the Los Angeles Times. By 2017, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback was unemployed, a fact FiveThirtyEight attributes to Colin's political stance. Even though the football player ranked higher than many quarterbacks, Colin was never signed by a team again, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Racial awareness has been present in Colin Kaepernick's life from a young age, which stems from his being raised by a white family. He first realized he was different from his parents and siblings when he had to draw a family picture for a school assignment, he wrote in his children's book "I Color Myself Different." At 5, Colin began to foster his Black identity — with the support of his adoptive parents.

Colin Kaepernick's parents were open about his adoption

Colin Kaepernick was adopted when he was 5 weeks old by Teresa and Rick Kaepernick, according to The Undefeated. The white couple from Wisconsin already had two biological children, a son named Kyle and a daughter named Devon, per Bustle, but they decided to adopt after losing two babies to congenital heart defects, The Undefeated detailed. Colin's biological mother was a 19-year-old white woman, while his biological father was Black, according to The New York Times. For the Kaepernicks, Colin was the "perfect child" who completed their family, according to Bustle. When Colin was 5, his family relocated to California when Rick was offered a job at a cheese company, per the Times.

Teresa and Rick were always up front with Colin about the adoption. "We were always very open about the skin colors. We pointed it out as a positive, and he saw his difference and was comfortable with it," Teresa told The New York Times in 2010. Even though his parents were always open-minded and supportive, Colin believes growing up in a white family highlighted the fact that he was different. "As my identity developed and my place in society and my understanding of that developed, my parents and my family had develop as well ... but it's been one that [they've] worked through and [they've] always been really loving in the process," Colin said in VH1's 2018 special "Dear Mama: A Love Letter to Moms."

Colin Kaepernick's parents defended him amid the backlash

In the early stages of the backlash against Colin Kaepernick, Teresa and Rick Kaepernick chose to stay out of it. Their silence, paired with the fact they had an American flag outside their home in Modesto, California, gave rise to suspicion that they were critical of their son's activism, fueled by a September 2016 report by USA Today. At the time, Teresa told the outlet that "it's not in our best interest or Colin's best interest" to comment. 

But when Admiral Harry Harris appeared to criticize Colin at the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 2016, the Kaepernicks realized they could no longer stay silent. That month, they defended their son's right to protest. "I just want to be on the record that we absolutely do support him," Teresa told The Undefeated. Teresa became more vocal about her support as the backlash heightened. In September 2017, she responded to then-President Donald Trump, who said "that son of a b***h" should be "fired," referring to another NFL protester. "Guess that makes me a proud b****h," she wrote on Twitter (via NBC Sports). 

While Colin has used Instagram mainly in his role as an activist since 2016, his previous activity showed he is close with his family and admires his parents. "I didn't ask The Lord for a perfect example but He gave it to me anyways," Colin caption a post in honor of Teresa and Rick's 38th wedding anniversary in 2013.