Former 49ers defensive lineman Bryant Young was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.
His induction into “football heaven” followed an illustrious 14-year career in the NFL, all of which was spent in San Francisco. Young, a one-time Super Bowl champion, four-time Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro selection in 1996, compiled 627 career tackles, 93 for loss and 89.5 sacks.
Young could have spoken only of himself and his playing career in his Hall of Fame induction speech, as would have been his right. But he also spoke at length about the support he received from his wife, Kristen, and their six children.
The newly enshrined Hall of Famer also spoke at length in a touching tribute to their son, Colby, who died in 2016 at the age of 15 as a result of cancer.
“I’ve introduced five of our children. Now I’d like to let you meet Colby,” Young said. “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 cancer.”
Young spoke to the trials Colby faced as doctors attempted to treat his cancer with radiation and immunotherapy treatment. He also spoke about Colby’s realization that he would not be able to play football anymore and the fearlessness with which he faced the disease.
He also revealed how, despite their best efforts, the cancer would ultimately prove fatal, and the ensuing promise he made to his son before his death.
“Colby sensed where things were heading, and had questions,” Young said. “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 Oct. 11, 2016, God called Colby home.
Colby, you live on in our hearts. We will always speak your name.
Following the end of Young’s speech, a picture of the father and son displayed on the video screen behind him: a fitting tribute that ensures Colby, like his father, will always be remembered.