“In life, Ricky Byrdsong made a difference. In death, he may do even more”
Jay Mariotti, Chicago Sun-Times, July 1999
Ricky was passionate, compassionate and committed to strengthening America’s families. Unfortunately, Ricky died on July 3, 1999, after being gunned down in the suburbs of Illinois by Benjamin Smith, a 21-year old white supremacist. Ricky was murdered in front of two of his three children.
Ricky Allen Byrdsong was born June 24, 1956 in Atlanta, Georgia. He attended Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta, Georgia, Pratt Community College in Kansas, and graduated from Iowa State in 1978. Ricky and wife Sherialyn had a very strong bond that began at age 16. Seven years later they were married and three children were born: Sabrina Triniece, Kelley Marcia, and Ricky Jr. They were married for 19 years.
Nationally known as the Head Basketball Coach at Northwestern University from 1993-1997, he had previously served as head coach at the University of Detroit Mercy. Also, he was the assistant coach at the University of Arizona, Eastern Illinois, Western Michigan University and his alma mater, Iowa State University. His Division I coaching career spanned 19 years.
After leaving Northwestern, Ricky served as Vice President of Community Affairs for the Aon Corporation, where his primary responsibilities included developing programs to help underprivileged youth reach their full potential and representing Aon in various corporate functions throughout Chicagoland. By continuing to “coach” young people all across the country, he remained a popular motivational speaker with adults, as well as youth.