When Ted Ginn Jr. lines up at wide receiver this Sunday for the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl 50 at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, California. He won’t only be playing to win a championship, but trying to save a life – like his father does.
Ginn Jr. grew up in eastern Cleveland, Ohio where he witnessed his father, Ted Ginn Sr., take troubled boys from an underserved neighborhood under his wings and help turn them into upstanding young men. Junior says senior is the sole reason for where he is today.
“He’s been my coach my whole life,” said Ginn Jr. “Without him, there’s no me.”
Ginn Sr. has been helping his community through coaching football for about 30 years and, often times, have taken boys into his home when they had nowhere else to go to be safe.
In 2007 Ginn Sr. founded what is the only all-boys high school in Ohio.
“My father has been living with kids his whole life,” said Ginn Jr. “We have our own school back home.”
Ginn Jr. and others mentored or coached by his father, including Cleveland Browns safety Donte Whitner, who have received college scholarships, whether for athletics or academics, and have found success are examples for the youth back in their hometown.
“We have like little things that really make us go,” said Ginn Jr. “We’re just trying to save a life and that’s what it’s all about. Getting up every day playing this game is saving a life in Cleveland, Ohio.”
Ginn Jr., now in his 9th NFL season, had the best season of his career as he led the Panthers with 10 receiving touchdowns. Throughout his career, he had been relegated to playing as a situational receiver and a returner, leading him to bounce between four teams – including Carolina two seasons ago – before he re-signed with them again last offseason.
Circumstances have led him to being a major offensive weapon for this team’s Super Bowl run.
“The coaching staff and organization really gave me a chance,” said Ginn Jr. “And with that chance, I put my best foot forward and it came out great for me.”
The chance given to him was an opportunity to become a full-time wide receiver for the first time in his career.
“They put a plate in front of me and I ate,” Ginn Jr. added.
For Ginn Jr., the environment that the Carolina franchise has created is very familiar.
“This organization is similar to my pops,” Ginn Jr. said. “I was given a chance to save a life. That’s what it did. For everybody here, they did. Somebody said that they won’t [succeed]. And as people say, we’re a bunch of misfits who are in the Super Bowl.”