CANTON, Ohio -- Former 49ers defensive tackle Bryant Young was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.
His eldest daughter, Kai, and former 49ers owner Edward J. DeBartolo Jr. introduced Young in a video that played before Young delivered his speech. The Hall of Fame mandates that the speeches last no longer than eight minutes, which prevented Young from mentioning all the individuals who helped him achieve football’s greatest individual honor.
Here is Young’s speech:
"Mr. D and Kai -- thank you for serving as my presenters.
I’m grateful to Hall voters and humbled to join the 2022 class and 29 former Forty Niners who preceded me.
I proudly wore gold throughout my career. I’ll cherish this jacket for the rest of my life.
Today for me is about faith, football and family. My wife Kristin and I met at Notre Dame.
We’ve been together 31 years. And what a journey: Six kids. Careers. Injuries. Life-altering losses.
Kristin -- my partner in all things, co-heir in Christ—you embody much of what this jacket and this day represent: sacrifice, selflessness, integrity. 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.”
Kids, I admire your courage, determination, maturity and resilience. You inspire me to be the best version of myself. I’m proud to be your dad. I love you.
My father Tommy is here with his wife Charlotte. He served the Army, Peace Corps, his church and, for 38 years for Ford Motor Company.
Dad, thanks for sharing your wisdom. Planting a spiritual seed. Living humbly. Showing me the meaning of hard work. I love you.
To my older brothers—my biggest cheerleaders—I’m proud of our bond and your bravery. Tim—your recovery from cancer. Carlos—your service in Operation Desert Storm. I love you both.
Our mother Alice passed away in 2020. She had an innate sweetness, warm smile and her own, unspoken love language: cooking for family and friends; successfully overcoming personal challenges. Mom, I think of you often, and hope you’re smiling today. I love you.
Our extended family and friends have been a constant, comforting presence. I wish time permitted me to name you all. My love for you all runs deep.
I deeply respect our game and want to thank some of the many who supported me along the way.
Although I thought I’d make a fine fullback, my high school coaches at Bloom in Chicago Heights put me where I belonged: in the trenches.
At Notre Dame, Lou Holtz preached trust, care and commitment. Team over individual. “We over Me.”
Aaron Taylor, my college teammate, became much more: my best man and brother for life.
I was fortunate to be drafted by and play for the 49ers, a championship organization led by competitive, compassionate owners.
Mr. D, Candi, John, Denise, Jed: thank you for all the love, kindness and generosity you’ve shown me.
I was fortunate to work with strong coaches. George Seifert challenged me to elevate my play. So did Steve Mariucci, who kept us focused during playoff seasons and a rebuild.
Position coaches Dwaine Board and Dan Quinn were honest, fair and supported me, in good times and bad.
There isn’t time today to properly honor teammates—some sitting feet away. All I’ll say for now is, I never ever wanted to let you down. Thank you.
To my opponents—utmost respect. It meant a lot to learn that several offensive linemen I faced over the years spoke up for my candidacy. Thank you so much.
Finally, the 49er Faithful. Let’s win another Super Bowl!
Football also brought adversity. During a November 1998 game against the Giants, my right leg was badly broken. There were complications. I could have lost my leg.
I fought back, playing another nine seasons. But while dealing with the injury, Kristin was pregnant with Kai. Few knew it at the time.
Rather than being cared for, Kristin was caring for me. My vulnerability and loss of control were disorienting.
I learned some things about trusting God, living with doubt, accepting help. We passed the test. But another loomed.
I’ve introduced five of our children. Now I’d like to let you to meet Colby.
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 a brain tumor.
Kai had just had knee surgery and deserved our full attention. But our focus and hers shifted to Colby.
Five days later surgeons removed the tumor and told us it was cancer.
Colby was back at school eight days later. His spirits were good. He had the heart of a lion.
My injury seemed trivial.
Knowing radiation would weaken him, doctors told Colby to give up football. It absolutely broke his heart, but he turned the page and focused on basketball.
The treatments were hard. Colby showed immense courage. He felt good for months. We really were 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.
Colby sensed where things were heading and had questions. 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.
Colby: you live on in our hearts. We will always speak your name.
Noted writer Arthur Brooks compares us to a grove of aspen trees with a single root system.
“That’s you, too,” Brooks writes. “You’re not a tree. You’re part of a vast root system, and you need to cultivate your system, not just look out for your tree.”
I stand here thanks to my root system: My wife, family, and friends. Teammates—my football brothers. The University of Notre Dame and the Forty Niners. Coaches who saw potential and honed it. Doctors, trainers, and spiritual mentors. And our church and school community.
And above all, a gracious God.
I’ll close with some lessons I’ve learned along the way: From my pain, I’ve found purpose. Letting someone grab my hand is as important as reaching for theirs.
In an isolated world, personal connections matter more than ever.
I keep my gaze on Christ and pour myself into good works, including the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.
And I’ve learned to trust God’s plan and timing, not mine.
In this, my tenth year of eligibility, I enter the Hall as a member of its 2022 class.
It was Colby’s favorite number.