Football

Brothers Calvin, Riley Ridley give back to program that helped them in their youth

For every career milestone Calvin Ridley has reached, younger brother Riley Ridley has been right behind him to achieve it a year later.

A year after Calvin went off to college at Alabama out of Monarch High, Riley went to Georgia – but from Deerfield Beach High. After Calvin was selected in the 2018 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons following a three-year college career, Riley did the same, going to the Chicago Bears in the past draft.

The similarities don't stop with football milestones.

After Calvin Ridley hosted his inaugural charity bowling event last summer benefiting TUFF Start, a nonprofit organization that helps underprivileged youths in Broward County, Riley Ridley on Friday night at AMF Margate Lanes made it a joint effort. The two combined to put on the second-annual "Bowling for the Boys," a night of fun for kids currently in the same program that helped the Ridleys when they were younger.

"I (saw) what my brother did last year, and it was a really cool thing," said Riley Ridley, who heads into his rookie NFL season after going to the Bears at pick No. 126, a fourth-round selection. "It was just to give back to the community, give hope to the young kids and just come show face and have fun with younger guys that we were in their shoes at one point."

"I'm very proud of him," said Calvin Ridley, who had 64 receptions for 821 yards and 10 touchdowns as a rookie. "Just happy he's here with me and makes it more fun for him to be here and for us to enjoy this."

Zack Rehman, who started TUFF Start in 2012 by offering free training sessions to kids at an open field in Margate and has now grown it into an organization that has its own facility and nearly 500 members, recalls the Ridleys being some of those initial participants.

"It's awesome to have both of them come back," Rehman said. "Our youth is important to us because it's our future. I know they see it, they believe it. ... (The kids) are able to see, talk and touch somebody that's on TV and a superstar in the NFL. It's amazing for them."

Calvin Ridley and Riley Ridley, a Deerfield Beach alum who played at Monarch while his brother was there, added a youth football camp and 7-on-7 tournament at Fort Lauderdale's Joseph C. Carter Park on Saturday to this year's installment. Along with them at Saturday's camp: Bears safety Eddie Jackson, who is a Boyd Anderson product.

Having Jackson in Chicago has helped Riley Ridley during organized team activities and minicamp this offseason.

"Eddie's a local guy from around here, so it's respect," Riley said. "It's competition and we do what we got to do."

For Calvin, he looks to expand on a standout rookie season.

"I just really need to relax," he said. "I'm more relaxed right now. I know the playbook pretty good. I know what's pretty much coming."

And having Calvin's rookie season to aspire to, Riley heads in motivated.

"He sets a high standard and you just want to always try to compete the best you can, but when you have a brother that's doing good, you just want to keep things going," Riley said.

TUFF Start looks to provide a combination of athletic training, tutoring and opportunities for children to enhance their reading, art and music skills among much else.

"We're just trying to take up their time, trying to make sure they don't have that idle time out there in the streets, running around unsupervised," Rehman said. "For them, it was football, but for other kids, maybe it could be being a teacher, a motivator, being the next President of the United States."

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