Tanner, a four-star safety prospect from Columbus Eastmoor, should not be here because a doctor told his mother less than a year before he was born that she would be unable to have any more children. It played a role in when Tanner opted to make his decision public.
As he addressed a crowd of friends, family members and media types in his school library, Tanner said he picked July 2 to make his announcement because he was supposed to have an older sister. Named Elizabeth, she died at childbirth.
It would have been her 18th birthday.
"My mom wasn't supposed to have kids after that incident," Tanner said following his announcement. "The doctor said she wouldn't be able to have kids so she often calls me her ‘miracle baby' because the doctors said I wouldn't be here today."
Standing a dozen feet away from her son as he was being interviewed, Kim Tanner took it all in with a smile.
"It's like I'm living a dream," she said. "I was told that I couldn't have any more kids. I tell him that he carries his sister's spirit in him. He has extra spirit so I think that's why he's able to go beyond (expectations)."
The two Tanner children have obviously never met, but Ron said he has a photo of his older sister. The decision to honor her with his announcement left for a few mixed feelings.
"I'm sad that she's not here with me today but I'm also excited because I know she's excited for me," he said. "It's a combination. It's more joy right now because I know she'd want me to be happy so I'm going to be happy."
His mom concurred, saying that this is "the best birthday she could ever have." The announcement has helped turn the day into a joyous one for a family full of Buckeye fans, she said.
"It's a happy and a sad day," she said. "Of course we wish she was here. Him and I talked about it (July 1). We have a picture of her. She is here. We remember this day anyways because it's her birthday and now it's just more of a joyous day."
At his announcement, Tanner was accompanied by his parents as well as an older sister.
Tanner's mother said her son has always carried himself as being older than he actually is. In addition to helping him win household arguments, it apparently paid dividends on the gridiron as well.
"Ron has been playing sports for a very long time," his father, Ron I, said. "He started when he was about four years old playing football, baseball and basketball. Whatever had a ball, Ron wanted to play as a four-year-old. A lot of kids on his team were six, seven years old. He was the youngest kid out there. He's always been a tough kid."
Now he's a future Buckeye playing for a sibling whom he has never met.
"Me becoming a Buckeye is definitely a great day because like the rest of my family I'm sure she would've grown up being a Buckeye," he said. "I know she's looking down on me and has been looking forward to this moment that I made for her today."