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Colin Kaepernick's Biological Mother Steps Into National Anthem Fray With a Pointed Message for the Quarterback

"The path less traveled ..."

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick holds the football during warmups before a preseason NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

The biological mother of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick criticized his controversial refusal to stand for the National Anthem last Friday.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick holds the football during warmups before a preseason NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

"There's ways to make change w/o disrespecting & bringing shame to the very country & family who afforded you so many blessings," tweeted Heidi Russo, who gave up Kaepernick for adoption when he was an infant.

Russo's Twitter bio reads: "Wife, mom to Michael, Ethan & Alex, Birthmom of Colin, Co-Founder of Linked Thru Love, advocate for changing stigmas & stereotypes for birthmothers & adoption."

She added this message to Kaepernick: "The path less traveled doesn't need to be one of destruction."

According to a 2013 ESPN article, Russo was "19, unmarried and nearly broke when she gave him up. She cared for him for five weeks while she looked for an adopting couple who were (A) set for money, (B) had other kids and (C) loved sports. Heidi stands 6-foot-2, and the birth father, now absent, was also 6-2."

ESPN added that Kaepernick had no interest in meeting Russo, and writer Rick Reilly wondered if that sentiment was out of respect for his adoptive parents.

"No," Kaepernick said. "It's not really a respect thing. It's just — that's my family. That's it."

More from ESPN:

Colin Kaepernick turned out to be an iron-willed, headstrong athletic tornado. He was so good at every sport that his family called him "Bo," after Bo Jackson. Still do. As he grew, the new mother would send the old one letters and pictures, until Russo finally asked her to stop. They were too painful.

"I couldn't move forward with my life," she recently told Denver TV station KDVR. (Russo did not return my phone calls.)

The nature of their relationship today, if any, is unclear.

Many reactions to Russo's tweets were hostile:

Russo took issue with some of the blowback:

Others praised Russo for her choice to put Kaepernick up for adoption rather than terminating her pregnancy:

(H/T: Young Conservatives)

One last thing…
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