Well before his NFL career, Colin Kaepernick had to deal with racism on the sports field. Though the athlete, who was adopted by a white family at 5-months-old, was aware his parents’ societal privileges, he says it wasn’t enough to protect him from the bigotry in his hometown. But that didn’t stop his mom from putting a few ignorant parents in their place.
Kaepernick spoke about his childhood experiences, as well as his biggest defender, in VH1’s upcoming special, Dear Mama: A Love Letter to Moms.
“When adults were unaware of who my mother was at little league baseball games,” he said on stage, “it was her that gave a tongue lashing to the parents in the stands speaking ill about the black child striking out all of their sons.”
Kaepernick’s mother, Teresa Kaepernick, joined the athlete/activist on stage during the televised Mother’s Day event. She spoke about her son’s character as a child and how he evolved into the man he is today.
“I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you be cruel or speak nastily of anyone. You were kind and patient with those who needed help, since the time you were a very young child,” she said. “And you’ve always been very persistent and tenacious in pursuit of anything that you desired […] It’s what took you to fulfill your dream to become an NFL quarterback. And when you see injustices in this world, you are not the kind of man who sits back and hopes other people will deal with it—even if that means giving up on your dreams.”
You can watch a sneak peek of the Kaepernick’s speeches in the video above. Dear Mama: A Love Letter to Moms will include appearances by Gabriel Union, Diddy, Jhené Aiko, and more. The show will air at 9/8c Monday on VH1.