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Phil Carter-USA TODAY Sports

49ers legend Bryant Young delivers heartfelt speech during Hall of Fame induction

Aug 6, 2022 at 11:33 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers' legendary defensive lineman, Bryant Young, delivered his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech on Saturday in Canton, Ohio. He thanked family, teammates, friends, and even his opponents in his heartfelt words. Young also shared a beautiful tribute to his late son, Colby, who died of pediatric cancer at age 15 on October 11, 2016.

Click here to watch the entire speech on YouTube.

San Francisco made Young the No. 7 overall draft pick out of Notre Dame in 1994. He was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year during the ensuing season, was named to the Pro Bowl four times, was a first-team All-Pro in 1996, was part of San Francisco's Super Bowl XXIX championship team, and won the team's prestigious Len Eshmont Award eight times, more than any other player.

RELATED As Bryant Young enters Hall of Fame, Kyle Shanahan names one 49ers player with a similar trait

Young started all 208 games in which he appeared and registered 774 total tackles, 27 passes defensed, eight forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries, and 89.5 sacks, which ranks first in franchise history since sacks became an official statistic in 1982. He recorded 11-or-more single-season sacks twice in his career, including 11.5 in 1996.

In 1999, the year after suffering a gruesome broken leg against the New York Giants, Young recorded 11 sacks while starting all 16 games. He was named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

The following transcript was complied by 49ers Webzone editor David Bonilla.

"Mr. D and Kai (Bryant's oldest daughter), thank you for serving as my presenters. I'm grateful to the Hall voters and humbled to join the 2022 class and 29 former 49ers who preceded me. I proudly wore gold throughout my career. I'll cherish this jacket for the rest of my life.

"Today, for me, is about faith, football, and family. My wife Kris and I met at Notre Dame. We've been together 31 years, and what a journey. Six kids, careers, injuries, life-altering losses. Kristin, my partner in all things, co-heir in Christ, you embody much of what this jacket and this day represents—sacrifice, selflessness, integrity. I love you so much.

"Five of our Children, Kai, Kennedy, Bryce, Kamille, and Beau, are here. They're tight-knit. You should see our family's text thread, which we call 'Fam Bam.' Kids, I admire your courage, determination, maturity, and resilience. You inspire me to be the best version of myself. I'm proud to be your dad. I love you.

"My father, Tommy, is here with his wife, Charlotte. He served the Army, Peace Corps, his church, and 38 years for Ford Motors company. Dad, thanks for sharing your wisdom, planting the spiritual seed, living humbly, and showing me the meaning of hard work. I love you.

"To my older brothers, my biggest cheerleaders, I'm proud of our bond and your bravery. Tim, your recovery from cancer. Carlos, your service and operations in Desert Storm. I love you both. Our mother, Alice, passed away in 2020. She had an innate sweetness, warm smile, and her own unspoken love language, cooking for family, friends, and successfully overcoming personal challenges. Mom, I think of you often, and I hope you are smiling today. I love you.

"Our extended family and friends have been a constant comforting presence in my life. I wish time permitted me to name you all, but my love for you runs deep. Thank you.

"I deeply respect our game and want to thank some of the many who supported me along the way. Although I thought I'd make a fine fullback, my high school coaches at Bloom in Chicago Heights (Illinois), they put me where I belong, in the trenches. At Notre Dame, Lou Holtz preached trust, care, and commitment. Team over individual. We over me. Aaron Taylor, my college teammate, became much more—my best man, brother for life.

"I was fortunate to be drafted by and play for the 49ers, a championship organization led by competitive and compassionate owners. Mr. D, Candy (Eddie DeBartolo Jr.'s wife), John (York), Denise (DeBartolo York), Jed (York), thank you for all the love, kindness, and generosity you've shown. I was fortunate to work with strong coaches. George Seifert challenged me to elevate my play. So did Steve Mariucci, who kept us focused during playoff seasons and the rebuild. Position coaches Dwaine Board and Dan Quinn were honest, fair, and supported me in good times and bad.

"There isn't time today to properly honor teammates, some sitting here, a few feet away. All I'll say for now is I never ever wanted to let you down. Thank you. And to my opponents—utmost respect. It meant a lot to learn that several offensive linemen I faced over the years spoke up for my candidacy. Thank you so much. Finally, the 49er faithful. Let's win another Super Bowl.

"Football also brought adversity. During a November 1998 game versus the Giants, my right leg was badly broken. There were complications. I could have lost my leg. I fought back, playing another nine seasons, but while dealing with the injury, Kristin was pregnant with Kai. Few knew it at the time. Rather than being cared for, Kristin was caring for me. My vulnerability and loss of control were disorienting. I learned some things about trusting God, living with doubt, accepting help. We passed a test, but another loomed.

"I've introduced five of our children. Now, I'd like to let you meet Colby. Born in August 2001, Colby loved life. He had an infectious smile, many interests, including football. He was a happy kid. In Fall 2014, when he was 13, Colby started having headaches. A CAT scan revealed a Brian tumor. Kai had just had knee surgery and deserved our full attention, but our focus and hers shifted to Colby. Five days later, surgeons removed a tumor and told us it was cancer. Colby was back at school eight days later. His spirits were good. He had the heart of a lion. My injury seemed trivial. Knowing radiation would weaken him, doctors told Colby to give up football. It absolutely broke his heart. He turned a page and focused on basketball. The treatments were hard. Colby showed immense courage. He felt good for months. We really were hopeful. The following October, Colby said, 'Dad, I have a headache.' The cancer was back. Doctors tried immunotherapy, but it had spread too far, too fast. Colby sensed where things were heading and had questions. He didn't fear death as much as the process of dying. Would it be painful? Would he be remembered? We assured Colby we'd keep his memory alive and continue speaking his name. On October 11, 2016, God called Colby home. Colby, you live on in our hearts. We will always speak your name.

"You know, noted writer Arthur Brooks compares us to a groove of Aspen trees with a single root system. 'That's you too,' Brooks writes. 'You're not a tree. You're part of a vast root system, and you need to cultivate your system. Not just look out for your tree.' I stand here thanks to my root system. My wife, family and friends, teammates, my football brothers, the University of Notre Dame, and the 49ers. Coaches who saw potential and honed it, doctors, trainers, spiritual mentors, and our church and school community, and above all, a gracious God.

"I'll close with some lessons I've learned along the way. From my pain, I found purpose. Letting someone grab my hand is as important as reaching for theirs. In an isolated world, personal connections matter more than ever. I keep my gaze on Christ and pour myself into good works, including the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. And I've learned to trust God's plan and timing, not mine. In this, my 10th year of eligibility, I enter the Hall as a member of its 22 ... 2022 ... 22, it was Colby's favorite number. Thank you."

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