Anna Wilson is following her own path after years of feeling like she was in the shadow of a “great athlete” — her brother.
In a new essay for ESPN Anna, the younger sister of NFL quarterback Russell Wilson, opened up about her basketball career and what’s next now that her senior-year season at Standford University has been cut short due to coronavirus.
“Over the years, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten much closer with Russell,” wrote Anna. “And I feel like his shadow, for me, has dissipated. I don’t feel like I’m living in it as much as I was in the past. I feel like I’m very much my own person now, following my own path.”
Anna, a McDonald’s All-American point guard, is eight years younger than Russell, 31. She recounted in the essay about losing their father when she was only 12, and how that impacted her dedication to athletics.
“Sports had become an outlet for me when my father was alive. It took my mind off him being sick,” she explained. “After he was gone, with my mom being at work all the time and my brothers being away, it filled some of that void.”
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Now, years later, Anna’s time with Stanford Cardinal women’s basketball came to a quick and unexpected end.
“I thought I’d have a few more games, another chance to make a run at a championship,” she wrote for ESPN. “One last dance, as they say. Under normal circumstances, that might have felt devastating, but I’ve been thinking about life after sports for quite some time.”
She continued, “Many of my fellow athletes are being forced to think about it today, much sooner than expected. But this is one thing I’ve learned: Your identity isn’t based on your circumstance.”
Though Anna isn’t sure exactly what post-grad will hold for her, she said she enjoys and excels at photography. She’s also relying on her faith.
“Today, I have the faith of knowing that I’ve dealt with a lot of struggle,” she said. “I’ve dealt with the loss of a parent. I’ve dealt with living in the shadow of a great athlete and people’s expectations. There are so many things outside of sports that I’ve been able to accomplish just because I’ve made it to today. I never gave up. And a lot of people can’t say that they’ve made it to today.”
Anna seems to currently be self-isolating with Russell, his wife Ciara and their two children. Two weeks ago, Ciara posted a TikTok video of her entire brood dancing with Anna. Russell also gave Anna photo credit for an image of him he posted on Instagram Tuesday.