Colin Kaepernick didn’t have the most pleasant childhood with his adoptive parents.

The former NFL quarterback recently discussed his relationship with his parents, who are white, and some of the problematic things his mother Teresa Kaepernick would say.

“I know my parents love me, but there were still very problematic things that I went through,” he told CBS Mornings. When he was thinking of getting cornrows in his hair, she dismissed the idea, telling him he would look “not professional” and like “a little thug.”

“I think it was important to show [readers] that, ‘No, this can happen in your own home.’ And how do we move forward collectively while addressing the racism that is being perpetuated,” he said in the clip above.

The 35-year-old is biracial and identifies as Black. He wanted to get his hair braided into cornrows when he was a teen to emulate his hero, Allen Iverson. He recalled fighting with his parents about his hair, with his mom saying, “He’s getting what rolls?” He said the conversation inspired him to wear his hair in an afro. 

“It also informed why I have my hair long today,” he said.

Colin sought a career in the NFL over MLB because there are more Black football players than baseball players. While he hasn’t played since 2016, he reiterated to CBS that he’s ready to play again.

“Five, six days a week I’m still up at 4:30, I go get my training in,” Kaepernick said. “Yeah, that passion is still there and the ability is still there.”

Kaep’s newly released book, a graphic novel titled Change the Game, details more of his background and upbringing, including his relationship with his parents, particularly during his teenage years. He published his children’s book I Color Myself Different in 2022. Change the Game is aimed at a slightly older audience, ages 12 and over, and he spoke to CBS alongside his co-author, Eve L. Ewing, a professor, poet, and comics writer (Black Panther, Ironheart).

“[The book] deals with more complex issues than I Color Myself Different,” Colin explained. “The common thread, however, is creating books that give power and agency to the reader, specifically Black and Brown youths.”

Kaepernick’s life was dramatized in a six-part Netflix limited series Colin in Black & White in 2021.