"When Ramon was born he was very sick, and we thought he would have learning problems and we were told he would have growth problems," his mother, Ruth Murray, told Cuenca. "We were told that his spine was fused in a couple of areas and that it would stunt his growth unless we had surgery. They said he would have back problems and wouldn't be able to move well."
The doctors continued their push for surgery as Richards was growing up.
"They painted this awful picture for us," Murray added. "But spinal surgery on our 10-year-old, it wasn't going to happen."
Forget the concern for her son's well-being; the Richards were pushing hard to make ends meet. The money for surgery wasn't there. Having the money to keep the water running and electricity on was more important.
"My mom was working two jobs and she was in school and my dad was working two jobs," said Richards on the report. "They never gave up on us, and we thank God for keeping us together and helping us bond through that situation."
"There are a lot of ups and downs, but you don't cry in front of your kids," Murray said, remembering the hardest times. "You cry at night when they are asleep and you're alone, and then you wake up the next day and you move on."
"I have a great appreciation for my parents and they've done everything for me," Richards added. "I couldn't ask for anymore." Neither could Murray, as her son channeled all the competitive juices that a youngster could have into his studies, and he did it from the beginning.
"He has always been that way since second grade," she said in the story. "He still has (academic) awards from second grade hanging on his wall."
"Both my parents have been on me since I was young about my grades, every report card. A "B" was unacceptable, and I have always been that way," Richards explained. "I wanted to be on the honor roll."
When he was in seventh grade and seemingly growing like other kids, Murray said they let her son play on sports teams.
"When we cut him loose that was it, and pretty soon he was in everything," Murray said.
"It was fun for me, always fun," Richards said, smiling. "I'd go out there and it was like I was playing tag."
Football, basketball, baseball, track…he was playing it all, and his eventual high school football coach at Brackenridge, Willie Hall, said he is so glad Richards' parents didn't listen to the doctors.
"She mentioned that he had some problems and they finally let him play, and I just say thank God, because otherwise where would we be now? I can come up here on a Sunday thinking I'm not doing anything other than getting in a little work, and he's on the track and I'm thinking that I have to get out of here or they will think I'm working with the young man (during a period when rules don't allow coaches to work with players)," Hall said of his dynamo quarterback.
"There have been weekends I come up here and he has all the receivers out there, running routes and catching footballs."
Richards has turned into an all-area quarterback and an offensive dynamo who was responsible for more than 2,400 yards of total offense and 26 touchdowns last season. His near straight-A academic record and high test scores had Harvard, Yale, Rice, and Northwestern lining up to recruit him, but when he received the offer letter from Oklahoma State, his recruiting world stopped.
"When I got the Oklahoma State letter, I immediately wanted to go take a visit to Oklahoma State," Richards said. "It was an eight-hour trip, but it was worth it."
He will play cornerback and not on offense, but by now haven't you figured out that this young man finds the silver lining in everything?
"Defensive back is one of the most competitive positions," he said. "You get to prove you are better than the man across from you, the wide receiver. I love competition."
"He's been a great athlete, does all the things right, he's been a 10," said Hall, giving his standout senior one more perfect grade.