Chicago Heights native Bryant Young gets his Hall of Fame moment


CANTON, OH – This weekend, eight people joined professional football immortality, just as many of the legends of the game have done through the years at the beginning of August.

The Class of 2022 had their induction ceremony for the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday for their contributions to the game of football.

Included in that was a player who had a tremendous impact on the franchise in San Francisco, but his roots are firmly planted in Chicago.

(Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

Bryant Young, a native of Chicago Heights and former standout at Bloom High School who played his entire career with the 49ers, was enshrined with seven other legends of professional football.

He was introduced by his daughter, Kai, along with Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., the former owner of the 49ers, who helped him unveil his bust on the stage of Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

Chicago, of course, came up in his induction speech, including a position move that was made at Bloom that would have a major impact on his career.

“Although I thought I’d make a fine fullback, my high school coaches at Bloom in Chicago Heights, they put me where I belong, in the trenches,” said Bryant, and that decision to become a defensive tackle was a good one.

Young, a three-sport athlete at Bloom, had a strong career at Notre Dame, including a first-team All-American selection in 1993 when the Irish finished second in the nation. He was picked by San Francisco with the seventh-overall pick of the 1994 NFL Draft as he began a long run with that franchise.

The defensive tackle played 14 seasons with the 49ers, winning Rookie of the Year honors in 1994 in helping the franchise to their fifth Super Bowl title. Over the rest of his career, Bryant was selected to four Pro Bowls, was named an NFL second team All-Pro three times while making the first squad in 1996.

After a serious leg injury late in the 1998 season, Young returned to make 11 sacks in 1999, earning him NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors along with winning the 2000 George Halas Award.

Retiring in 2007, Young finished with 89 1/2 sacks with 93 tackles for loss and 12 forced fumbles in 208 regular season games.

The most memorable part of his speech, however, had nothing to do with football, but rather the battle that his late son Colby had with cancer during his childhood.

“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,” said Bryant of his late son, and he certainly did during his greatest football moment.

Larry Hawley has more on Young in this week’s “Random Hawlight” on WGN News Now. You can watch that segment in the video above.

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