To firmly grasp and fully appreciate the unbreakable bond between Russell Wilson and his father, Harrison Wilson III, and how faith in God fortified the family during trying times, you need to peek inside a Virginia hospital room in 2007.
Harrison Wilson III, whose body had been ravaged by diabetes, was in a coma after suffering one of several strokes that would eventually strike. Doctors said he would not live.
His wife, Tammy Wilson, and Russell Wilson, were visiting and weren't ready to surrender.
Let Russell Wilson, who appears to be a lock to open the 2011 college football season as Wisconsin's starting quarterback, tell the story:
"My mom came in and started singing a song to him, 'All By Grace,'" the Richmond, Va., native explained after a recent practice. "The doctors walked out of the room, and he lifted up his right hand. He hadn't moved for a week and a half. My mom freaked out and the doctors came back in."
Tammy Wilson started singing again.
"She said, 'Lift up your right hand again," Russell Wilson said. "He lifted his right hand."
Tammy Wilson kept singing and Harrison Wilson III kept responding, lifting up his left hand, then his right foot and finally his left foot.
"He lived for another two years," Russell Wilson said. "He saw my brother get married and he saw me get drafted."
What does Russell Wilson, who transferred to Wisconsin after starting for three seasons at North Carolina State, think when he relives such moments?
"I think of the Lord being there," he said. "There is a time and place for everything."
The time is now for Russell Wilson, whose father finally succumbed to complications from diabetes at age 55, on June 9, 2009. He died one day after Russell Wilson was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the fourth round of the Major League Baseball draft.
The place is Madison. The fifth-year senior, who started 36 games for the Wolfpack, appears to have been integrated seamlessly into the Wisconsin offense and locker room.
Despite playing football and baseball at North Carolina State, Russell Wilson needed less than four years to earn a bachelor's degree in communications. That accomplishment will allow him to play this season at Wisconsin, per NCAA rules, and illustrates his bright mind, dedication to academics and his work ethic.
On the field during Wisconsin's preseason camp, he has displayed poise, a surprisingly firm grasp of the offense, quick feet and a powerful, often-accurate arm.
"He is everything you see on those highlights at N.C. State," free safety Aaron Henry said. "There is no fabricating it."
Yet to better understand Russell Wilson you need to read stories like the 2007 visit to his father's bedside, as well as others.
Faith in God remains the foundation of the family - for Russell Wilson, 22; for his brother, Harrison Wilson IV, 28; their sister, Anna, 14; and their mother.
"He is very strong in his faith," said Annabelle Myers, assistant athletic director/media relations at North Carolina State, who grew close to Russell Wilson during his four years in the football program. "But he's not going to throw it in your face."
Tammy Wilson's age appears to be a family secret.
"If I told you how old she is, she would kill me," Harrison Wilson IV, a pharmaceutical sales rep in Chicago, said with a laugh. "Let me tell you how old she is. She is 29."
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SOURCE: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel