Russell Wilson Opens Up About the Significance of Hosting the 2020 ESPYs on Father's Day

"I'm grateful that I had a dad and a father figure that could prepare me for a moment like this," Russell Wilson told reporters

Russell Wilson attends the 5th annual Sports Humanitarian Awards presented by ESPN at The Novo Theater at L.A. Live on July 09, 2019 in Los Angeles
Russell Wilson. Photo: Allen Berezovsky/Getty

This weekend, Seattle Seahawks star Russell Wilson will try out a different title: ESPY Awards host.

In a call with reporters on Tuesday, Wilson — who will co-host the annual sports awards remotely with USWNT star Megan Rapinoe and WNBA player Sue Bird — said that he's prepared to lead the ESPYs with guidance from his role model: his late father.

"You know, it's going to be Father's Day on the day of the ESPYs and I think about what my dad meant to me and I think about how far I've come and all the lessons he taught me," reflected Wilson of his dad Harrison Wilson, who died 10 years ago from complications from diabetes.

The 31-year-old continued, "The lessons of how to throw a ground ball to you know, how to always get up early and train hard, how to be the first one up — all the way through my education but, also, he taught me that the reality of what we're going through right now in society is very real."

So, "To [host the ESPYs] on Father's Day, and in the midst of everything that's going on ... I'm grateful that I had a dad and a father figure that could prepare me for a moment like this," Wilson says, hearkening to the Black Lives Matter movement and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Added the soon-to-be father of three, "Just to be able to try to uplift people. And I think that he was the biggest light that was in my life, even though he passed away."

Russell Wilson, Ciara, Megan Rapinoe, and Sue Bird
Russell Wilson, Ciara, Megan Rapinoe, and Sue Bird at the 2019 ESPYS. Rich Fury/Getty

Wilson, and Bird and Rapinoe — who are self-isolating together at their home in Seattle — all filmed their duties remotely, but hinted that technology will make them appear to be together.

When asked by PEOPLE why viewers should tune-in after months without any actual sports to watch, Rapinoe teased, "First of all, let’s be honest: We know you’re not watching anything else."

She continued, "You haven’t seen sports stars that are normally in the position of entertaining you at this time of year."

Rapinoe, 34, said she hopes that viewers will "watch us and join us and share in this moment with us."

The show will still feature the presentation of top awards like the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, the Pat Tillman Award for Service, and the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance, but the winners' acceptance speeches will be done a little differently.

The 2020 ESPYS will air June 21 on ESPN at 9 p.m. EST.

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