49ers' soft-spoken legend Bryant Young delivers powerful Hall of Fame speech

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Soft-spoken Young delivers powerful message in HOF speech originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

CANTON, Ohio — Defensive tackle Bryant Young wore only the colors of the 49ers during his 14 seasons of professional football.

Before that, he was a standout at Notre Dame, prompting the 49ers to select him with the No. 7 overall pick of the 1994 NFL Draft.

On Saturday, wearing his new dazzling blazer as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022, Young delivered yet another golden moment that was in keeping with his standout, dignified career.

Young was introduced by his eldest daughter, Kai, and former 49ers owner Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., a Hall of Famer in his own right.

Then, he took the stage and his powerful, poignant eight-minute speech stirred the crowd -- and a national television audience -- with emotion.

Young recognized his wife, Kristin, and their five children in attendance for the induction ceremony.

“Kristin — my partner in all things, co-heir in Christ — you embody much of what this jacket and this day represent: sacrifice, selflessness, integrity,” Young said. “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 ‘FamBam.’”

Young, his voice filled with emotion, spoke about the member of the family whose presence and love always will be felt — even in his absence.

“Born in August 2001, Colby loved life,” Young said. “He had an infectious smile. Many interests, including football. He was a happy kid.”

Colby began having headaches in the fall of 2014 when he was 13 years old. A CAT scan revealed a brain tumor.

Five days later, Colby underwent surgery to remove the tumor. Doctors told the family it was cancer. He returned to school eight days later.

In comparison to the grisly broken leg that Young sustained in his career — from which he returned stronger than ever — Young said, “My injury seemed trivial.”

Doctors told Colby he could no longer play football, so he turned to basketball as his sport of choice.

“The treatments were hard,” Young said. “Colby showed immense courage. He felt good for months. We were really 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.”

Young stepped away from coaching in order to be with his family while Colby waged his courageous battle.

“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 October 11, 2016, God called Colby home.”

Young was the model of inspiration during his football career. He was an eight-time winner of the Len Eshmont Award. No other player in 49ers history has ever won the prestigious award more than twice.

The honor goes annually to the 49ers player who best exemplifies inspirational and courageous play. He earned the respect of his teammates and those he lined up against through his strength, will, desire, class and professionalism.

Not known as a vocal person as a player, Young’s eloquence was unmatched from the first words of his speech through his introduction of Colby to the world — keeping his memory alive.

Young on Saturday delivered inspiration with his words, his message, his faith and his vulnerability.

“From my pain, I’ve found purpose,” Young said. “ Letting someone grab my hand is as important as reaching for theirs.

“In an isolated world, personal connections matter more than ever.”

RELATED: How 49ers' Bryant Young learned of Hall of Fame induction

Today, Bryant and Kristin Young work closely with the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, lending time, support and resources to families experiencing the unspeakable hardships his family understands all too well.

“And I’ve learned to trust God’s plan and timing, not mine,” Young concluded. “In this, my tenth year of eligibility, I enter the Hall as a member of its 2022 class.

Twenty-two. It was Colby’s favorite number.”

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