"We used to take Ryan out to dinner when he was about 3 years old and he always wanted to go over to the next table and speak to people. We had to tell him not to do that. But he's always been that outgoing," said Fern Matthews-Harrow, the player's mother.
"Sometimes that personality can be like a double-edge sword. He relates to fans well, but I?have tried to tell him time and time again they know him only for playing basketball, not as an individual. He tries to be as open with people as he can."
Harrow certainly was open in a preseason interview about how much he missed his mother, who continues to live in North Carolina after moving from Atlanta.
"My corporate office is in Atlanta. We were in Atlanta for 18 years, but I am able to work from home now," Matthews-Harrow said. "When Ryan came to North Carolina State, I moved her to be near my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren.?I did not want to just pick up and leave because he left for Kentucky. They mean as much to me as he does. I did not want them to think I just had to leave because he did. Maybe next year (I'll move to Kentucky). We'll have to see what happens.
"I do hope to be able to come. We are very close. But I?am actually close to both my children. They are 14 years apart. They are both almost like only children. He's close to his sister, too."
She will be in Lexington this weekend to watch her son participate in Friday night's season-opening Big Blue Madness at Rupp Arena.
"I was following how the camp-out went (for Madness tickets). Those fans really are crazy," she laughed and said.
She hopes the fans will help support her son this season when he's unable to participate in games because of his transfer. He averaged 9.3 points, 3.2 assists and 1.9 rebounds per game last year in 29 games, including 10 starts, at N.C. State before transferring after coach Sidney Lowe was dismissed.
"It will be hard for him not playing. I?think probably more so when the team is traveling and he is alone in Lexington," Matthews-Harrow said. "That will be the really hard part. He can't travel unless he goes on his own. His dad works for an airline, so Ryan could fly free. He can follow the team if his schedule in terms of class and weightlifting allows him to.
"But his whole thing when he made this decision to transfer was that his mindset was he had to get stronger, put on more weight. Once he started working out and talking to coach Cal (John Calipari), he realized this is a great opportunity because he gets to learn coach Cal's system before he steps on the floor to play. It will be difficult at times not playing, but I think he will be able to handle it."
He has some experience missing games. He played his high school freshman season at Walton High School in Marietta, Ga., before transferring to Concord Cannon School in North Carolina as a sophomore where his brother-in-law was coaching. However, his grandmother died unexpectedly in December, 2007, and soon afterwards he decided to come back home even though he had to sit out the rest of the season.
"That was the first death Ryan really ever experienced," his mother said. "He was close to my mother. He just wanted to be back home. We buried my mom in January, and in February Ryan asked to come back home to finish school. He took the situation very hard. He had to wait until his junior year to play again. He played in the summer, but he couldn't play for his high school team.
"He knows what it is like to sit out, but this situation is a little different because he has a very high competitive spirit. He wants to play. As difficult as it might be not playing, he at least has been through it. He will be able to handle and focus. If he doesn't, I will make sure he does."