Ricky was born on January 29, 1961, to Bertha and Clyde Simmons in Greenville, Texas. His parents were both schoolteachers with master’s degrees. Ricky considered his family very traditional. Both parents in the home, hands-on, always available for him to talk to, and they attended church weekly. Ricky started playing football in the 5th grade as a deal with his father. At the end of high school, his success in football brought him several scholarship offers from all over the country. In 1979, Ricky signed a full-ride scholarship to play for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Ricky played wide receiver from 1979-1983. After the 1984 Orange Bowl, Ricky was drafted by the USFL to play for the Washington Federals. The following year, he joined the Orlando Renegades where he played for one year. At the end of the season playing for the Renegades, Ricky was picked up by the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons in 1986. During his first season with the Falcons, he quit the NFL to be a full-time drug addict, which led him to prison.
“I had lost everything. My parents were both in heaven, and everything I had was gone…”
These words consumed Ricky’s mind on his last trip to prison in 2007. The teachings from his parents had always remained with him, but for the first time in his life, he was starting to understand their meaning. Soon after he entered prison in 2007, Ricky received a letter written by Coach Tom Osborne. It was a short letter in which Coach Osborne wrote to tell Ricky that he believed in him. “That was the turning point for me.” From that day on, Ricky started to live a new life driven by a simple and basic concept; take responsibility for your actions. He realized that he does have control of his life and that he does have a purpose, but it has to start with him. Unlike prior incarcerations, he used this time to become the man that his family, and his mentor Coach Osborne, knew he could be. Leaving prison in 2009, Ricky had a plan and a completely different mindset.
“My dad used to tell me that I am a million-dollar guy, but I didn’t really understand that…”
Upon his release from prison, Ricky was aware that many doors were going to be shut in his face. Instead of letting it discourage him, he used it as motivation to continue working on his plan. The plan that he developed while incarcerated was to become a drug and alcohol counselor and a motivational speaker. The first thing he did upon his release was meet with his parole officer and he told his officer the plan. He started school to pursue his license and volunteered to work with youth. At this point, Ricky began to work on the second part of his plan, which was to become a motivational speaker. Throughout this period, Ricky faithfully visited Coach Osborne once a week. With the blessing of Coach Osborne, Ricky began to reach out to different agencies sharing his story in the hope of helping others. Facilities such as Boys Town, Geneva, Work Ethic Camp, and Hastings Regional Center began to invite Ricky as a guest speaker, which led to more speaking contracts. Opportunities as a motivational speaker came to Ricky at the end of 2010 to the present. Also in 2010, Ricky received his Provisional Alcohol and Drug Counselor license. His plan is now in full effect. As a footnote, Ricky returned to the prison from which he was released 11 months later. This time, not as a repeat offender, but as a licensed drug and alcohol counselor and guest speaker.
“Addiction to Redemption”
Ricky’s speech resonates beautifully with all audiences from middle school students to corporate executives. Ricky customizes his presentation to perfectly match the audience he is addressing. His presentation is a powerful testimonial centered around faith, support, the undying commitment to never, ever, ever giving up, and to living each day like the blessing it is!
The Explosion of Redemption: Trying to Win the Game of Personal Forgiveness in Life – The Journey of Former NFL Player Ricky C. Simmons
One day a person is going to see your name somewhere on some piece of paper. When they inquire about you, what are they going to find out? Life is the same for all of us. We live, and we die. What makes us different is how we live it. Throughout my years as a football player at the University of Nebraska and my time in the USFL and NFL, I made decisions that were not in my best interest. While battling demons and opposition that are common to us all, I made mistakes that could have taken me out. However, here I am, still living and still loving. With that love, it is my hope that by sharing my story, I can help someone see a light of perseverance and forgiveness in areas where darkness is present. I want to help somebody live life to the fullest. Or, as I say, live life like another day in paradise. Buy here
365 Days of Redemption: Daily Journal of Inspirational Quotes by Former NFL Player and Substance Abuse Motivational Speakers Ricky C. Simmons
This book is a weapon for you to use against any type of mindset that is stopping you from achieving your highest potential. With each day you will find a quote from the book that can help you shift gears and attack the day with a positive frame of mind which will help you win the battle in the mind as you journey through life’s daily obstacles. Buy here
“Ricky Simmons, a starting wide receiver in 1982 and 1983, has become an informal mentee of mine in recent years. Although he came from an excellent family, he struggled with drug addiction and spent several years in prison. During his last stay in jail, I wrote him a simple letter letting him know I still believed in him. Even though the letter was brief, it apparently arrived at a critical time in Ricky’s life. He had lost hope that his situation would ever improve. He says that when he received my note he got down on his knees and made a spiritual commitment which was life-changing. Once he got out of prison, Ricky came to see me and has continued to do so each week without fail. He has turned his life around, becoming a substance abuse counselor and speaking to youth about his experiences. I believe these weekly check-ins are a measure of accountability for him, providing him with a reminder of the changes he has made in his life. I am proud of what he is doing and thankful that I can remain a part of his life.”
Tom Osborne, Former Head Football Coach, Nebraska Cornhuskers
Ricky was very professional, funny, and the dancing was my favorite part. He acted out what he was saying which captivated the audience, and he interacted well with them. He also left plenty of time for questions and answers, and was relatable on so many levels. I loved that Ricky met with me beforehand, I loved that he called me both before and after. It was just wonderful.
Nikki Peterson, Unit Administrator, Nebraska Department of Correctional Services
“A big shout out to my friend Ricky C. Simmons for another great experience at NSP! You are able to inspire and encourage our inmates like no other. Your service to others is unparalleled. Thanks for teaching us how to live another day in paradise.”
Marv Chauza, Nebraska State Penitentiary
“I am honored to provide a positive reference regarding Ricky C. Simmons as a motivational speaker. Ricky is a former Husker teammate of mine, who’s journey exemplifies a true “road to redemption.” He’s lived the ultimate test of incarceration, which is why he has a tangible testimony. Having spent time in the belly of the beast, Ricky used his ‘athletic ability of recovery’ to successfully turn past flaws into a positive story that motivates others. In an age where the media is omnipresent, the student-athlete’s transgression has become broadcast and print fodder. Their negative exposure in today’s public arena often leads to broken dreams and potential unfulfilled. As an athletic administrator, I see Ricky’s message as a proactive way to save young people from themselves. I highly recommend him as a realistic, authentic and effective speaker against the perils of drug and alcohol abuse for youth of all ages.”
Dr. Jamie Williams
“Tonight, it is a tremendous honor for me to meet and listen to Ricky C. Simmons. His personal story of redemption is inspiring. He has experienced the absolute best of life and made decisions that showed him the worst of life, only to turn it all around to become a fascinating motivational speaker. The cream rises to the top. Take a few minutes and look up his story. I’m proud to now call him a friend.”
Lonny Schonfeld, The Texan Theater
“He’s brutally honest and extremely charismatic. A natural. He tells a story that is at once painful and inspirational.”
Steven M. Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star
“Today I have reached another milestone. I will be 40 years old in less than two weeks. Thank God — today marks the 96th day of sobriety and I feel extremely blessed. My inspiration is no one other than Ricky C. Simmons. You rock dude. Thank you for all the help you have given me. Your support will forever be appreciated.”
Terrell Farley, Former Nebraska Cornhusker
“We were very blessed to have former Husker wide receiver Ricky C. Simmons come share his story with our youth group. We had the third largest Wednesday night attendance ever and we were all treated to an awesome story of the grace of God in Ricky’s life. I highly recommend him as a gifted, entertaining and inspiring speaker to youth groups.”
Steven William Davenport
“I couldn’t wait to get home to email you. I listen to the Ticket 93.7 on the daily. It has never made me cry like a baby like it did today with you being on the air. Addiction has plagued me most of my life. I have quit drugs but drinking is a developing problem. I put together three years of total sobriety after treatment, but since that time I started to think that I could handle drinking. WRONG!!! Anyway, GOD BLESS YOU. Your vibe and inspiration hit me within 10 minutes of listening to the show…both laughing and crying at the same time. THANK YOU.”