I started at about age 8 or 10 playing. My grandfather played and I liked it and we played when I came to see him and I picked up on up," Russell said. "I didn't play too many video games. I always either played board games or was doing something else. I was never much on video games. I was following my mom around or messed with my dad. I was not a video guy, but I liked chess."
Why? What was there about chess that fascinated him?
"Chess is hard, but I like having to think ahead. That also helps in football because that is the same exact thing you have to do. You have to think ahead at least two steps forward about what you are going to do. It has helped a lot. Some of those same instincts that help you in chess help you in football. Probably not many people would believe that, but I do," Russell said.
Russell is hoping to eventually play chess against coach Rich Brooks. "I haven't asked him yet, but I will get around to running it by him to see if he plays. I would love to play against him," Russell said.
His father, a barber, is also an accomplished chess play. "They didn't play at the barber shop, but I have played against him and beat him once or twice. He's good, but at least I have beat him," Russell said.
He credits his parents for his strong academic background and for being able to survive his first few months at UK with no major problems.
"My mom and dad have been there for me countless times. My mom calls me every day to see how I am doing. I talk to her. I can't really explain how much they have been there for me. Aunts, uncles everybody has been there for me," Russell said. "My dad knows a lot of people and friends know him. He has good stories and if I need somebody to talk to, I go to him. But I can also go to my mom. I just love her a lot, too.