Ryan Driggins, in better times
In late 2005, when we needed a photo for our cover story about Ted Ginn Sr. ["Thrill in the 'Ville
," Sept. 21, 2005] and the making of Glenville's football powerhouse, choosing the art was a no-brainer. It captured the energy, focus, and excitement that was constant during the few weeks I spent around the team.
Also, it wasn't of any random kid: it was of center Ryan Driggins, the anchor of the team's offensive line, one of its emotional leaders, and a testement Ginn's leadership. Driggins was incredibly undersized — less than five-five — and, like most Tarblooders, he came from a distinctly challenging place: as a boy, his mom was in drug treatment. He was raised for a time by Grandma, until she died when he was 10.
Ginn tried to save him: He made little Driggins his center and gave him a reason to go to class and stay out of trouble. At the practices I attended, no one's voice rose above the rest like Driggins':
These boys, they don't like the quiet. They like boom-box bass lines banging off rusty lockers. The thwack of helmet meeting helmet, whether in celebration or battle. The sound of their crazy little center, Ryan Driggins, commanding from his 5-foot-5, 220-pound frame: Get physical, nigga! Get fuckin' physical!
Driggins graduated not long after that photo was taken and was offered a partial scholarship to play football at a little school in West Virginia.
But he turned it down. And, as The Plain Dealer
reported this week, he now faces aggravated murder charges
and a life behind bars. Now the picture he'll forever be associated with is a glum, grainy mug shot. — Joe P. Tone