Russell Wilson
Photo: Getty Images

Russell Wilson delivers Dartmouth commencement speech and receives honorary degree

“Why not you?” the Denver Broncos quarterback asked during his speech.

  /  06.13.2022

Yesterday (June 12), NFL star Russell Wilson wished Dartmouth College’s graduating class well on their future endeavors as he delivered the commencement speech.

As the Denver Broncos quarterback addressed the students, faculty and families, he began, “Thank you very much for that introduction. Usually I just get introduced as ‘Ciara’s husband,’ so that was cool. And let me start by answering the question that is on so many of your minds: Yes, she’s here too.”

The athlete shared that his father, Harry Wilson, graduated from the private Ivy League college in Hanover, New Hampshire in 1977. He followed up by sharing a poem from Langston Hughes that his dad would read to him and his siblings as children, which reminded them that life would not always be easy.

“These four years probably weren’t the typical college experience you’d imagined. Shutting down when the pandemic hit. Missing your sophomore summer. Figuring out what the heck a Zoom call is,” Wilson said as he compared the poem to reality.

As the quarterback shared fond memories of his late father, he recalled when he was around 14 or 15 years old and his dad took him to a Peyton Manning football camp in Louisiana.

Wilson centered his speech around three words he remembered his father saying: “Why not you?”

“’You know, you could play against the Manning brothers one day. You could play in the NFL.’ And I was a confident kid, but I must have given him a look like, ‘Are you sure?’ Because he looked right at me and said, ‘Why not you?’” the Broncos player said of his father’s conversation.

I wanted to play two sports at NC State. People said, ‘There’s no way you can do that.’ But I could hear my dad’s voice in my head: ‘Why not you?’” he added.

Wilson continued, “Seeing this hot, long-legged singer named Ciara for the first time in a music video, her little smirk of a smile: ‘C’mon, Russ. Why not you?’”

“Graduates, I’m not here to tell you every dream is going to come true for you. My dreams of being like Mike, at my height, those didn’t come true. But I am here to tell you that every dream is going to come true for someone. And why shouldn’t that someone be you?” he shared.

While at the ceremony, the pro baller also received an honorary degree.

“For your poise, leadership and sportsmanship, both on and off the field, for your commitment to improving the lives of others and for your belief in the power of positivity and helping people reach their full potential, Dartmouth is proud to award you the honorary degree of doctor of humane letters,” Dartmouth President Philip J. Hanlon said to Wilson just before his speech.


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