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RedsArmy presents Fan Friday #37: “Grit & Balls”

Ryan is a 23 year-old Celtics fan from Worcester, Ma. who currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee. I first came into contact with him on Twitter about a year ago. We immediately clicked due to our mutual interest in the Boston Celtics. I was impressed with his vast knowledge of the team’s history. He attributes that to his family-specifically his Grandfather:

I’ve been a Celtic fan for as long as I can remember. One of my first Celts memories involved seeing Larry Bird on the cover of Dream Team memorabilia and knowing instinctively that he was important as a Boston player. My Grandfather used to wear a t-shirt with the cartoon caricatures of all the Celtics whose numbers were retired, and it was from my family that I learned the Celtic lore and history.

 

Ryan’s first, and favorite memory of Celtics’ games was his trip to the Fleet Center in 2002 to watch game 1 of the Celtics-Sixers playoff series. It would turn out to be Boston’s first playoff win since 1995:

My first experience at the (then) Fleet Center was game 1 of the Celtics-Sixers 2002 Eastern Conference playoffs. I attended this game with my parents, and it still stands as my favorite live sporting event to this day. You could feel all the pent up energy from the fanbase, who hadn’t gotten to taste the playoffs or success in quite some time, and it all came out during the game. It felt as though the crowd’s energy lifted up Pierce and Walker to new heights, while our jeers knocked Allen Iverson off of his explosive offensive game. That 2002 team wasn’t perfect, but it found ways to win games with “Grit and Balls”; like the 2011-12 team that won over our hearts this past Spring. The teams who find ways to get by on guts and IQ tend to endear themselves to me.

Ryan lists Paul Pierce as his all-time favorite Celtic. He explains why The Truth is one of his idols:

My favorite Celtic of all-time is Paul Pierce. I have had the honor of growing up watching Paul, learning all of his moves, tricks and tendencies. In my mind, I was Paul Pierce hitting game-winners on the Knicks when I took pretend buzzer-beaters on my back yard hoop, (always a step-back J, going right) . Paul Pierce is the embodiment of Celtic Pride and tradition. He stuck with the city and the fans when he could’ve easily bolted to a more glamorous city or a state with less income tax. Paul has always come off as genuine in his respect for the Kelly Green and what it stands for. It was, and still is, special to know that a kid from Inglewood, CA chose to embrace us and become a life-long Celtic. I will always feel privileged to have witnessed The Truth; Watching a professional scorer out-think dynamic defenders in the most crucial moments.

I want to extend special thanks to Ryan for taking the time to participate in Fan Friday. He is currently recovering from major back and spinal surgery, yet still made the effort to type-up answers to my interview questions. I’m sure this latest string of good play by the C’s has given him extra motivation:

Having moved to Tennessee, away from my family and friends in New England, watching Celtics games has taken on some new meaning for me. It’s a hobby that helps me to feel like a connected part of my old community. Watching the Celts play has also become a vital source of mental and physical healing. In the past five years, I’ve sustained two major injuries to my vertebrae/spine, the most recent of which I am just starting physical therapy for after five tough months. There were periods of time where I couldn’t leave my house, or my bed without assistance. Naturally, I turned to the Celtics; a team that prognosticators claimed was also on its last legs, so to speak. Not only did I bide a lot of time watching games, live-tweeting and reading Celtics blogs, but I drew strength watching each game. I looked to replicate the perseverance of Doc, KG and Pierce; draw energy from Avery’s youthful exuberance and fearless defense; and develop a single-minded approach similar Rondo’s, who rarely lets his size, reputation or skills deter him. Celtic Pride is something that transcends the game.

The “Grit and Balls” quote from KG became a personal mantra. I’ve gutted out some tough times, and with some major assists from doctors, family, friends and Basketball, I’ve gotten to a healthier place where I should be resuming a normal lifestyle soon.  The Celtics were there for me during a tough time, and in return I will always be a staunch supporter of the team, coach and players.

Huge thanks to Ryan for being a part of Fan Friday. You can find him on Twitter under the handle @HebertofNH. Thank you all for reading- UBUNTU.

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  • KGino

    You can tell who the bandwagon fans are by asking one simple question.. who is your favorite celtic?

    If the answer is anything but Paul Pierce, they’re most likely bandwagon.

    • GeeZeeCeltics

      Woah, go easy there! My favorite Celtic is Kevin Garnett, yet I’m green for life. Then again, I only started watching NBA basketball in 2007, by which time I already (tentatively) called KG my favorite player (although I hardly knew anything about him. He was a beast on Live 2001 though LOL). I’ve been hooked ever since. But it ain’t no bandwagon.

      About the piece – another epic Fan Friday. Love the choice to feature Ryan and love the feature in general. Fan Friday is one of the highlights of my week. Keep beasting, KWAPT.

      And have a speedy recovery, Ryan!

      • KWAPT

        Thank you GeeZee-much appreciated.

    • AusCelticsFan

      My favorite player is Bill Russell. Not sure what that qualifies me as.

      Another great Fan Friday read from Reds Army.

  • http://driveittothemoon.com/ Lee in Oregon

    Another great piece KWAPT. Ryan, hope you have a speedy & successful recovery.

    I had that same “Green-Stuff” shirt only with Darren Daye instead of that tool Paxson.

    • KWAPT

      Thanks Lee!

  • NicoleKayC

    Love this piece about my Good friend Ryan! He’s an amazing guy.

  • Brick James

    Very nice writeup.
    Good luck on your recovery, Ryan! You are a pretty good writer I might add.

    Go Celtics!

  • Dirk

    Very nice story. Thanks for sharing with us Ryan.
    Go Celtics

  • HebertofNH

    Thank you all, especially Jamey, for including me in this. It means a lot to get positive feedback from other fans. Go Celts

    Ryan Hebert

  • Jester00

    Always love the the fan friday even if I read a week late