Many of us likely know that Anaheim Ducks and US Olympic Team forward Bobby Ryan has a story with a local twist. The Cherry Hill, New Jersey native lived there until age 10, was a Philadelphia Flyers season ticket holder, and it's been written locally that his family has connections with Bob Clarke and the Flyers brass. In recent years even, while Ryan was playing with Owen Sound of the OHL prior to being drafted in 2005 just behind Sidney Crosby at second overall, he worked out with Flyers players over the summer.
But what many of us do not know are the troubled details of his early life. His birth name, in fact, isn't even Bobby Ryan; it's Robert Stevenson. He and his father changed their names when the elder Stevenson went on the lam in 1997.
Some of us knew the complete details of his story, but an article in Sunday's Star-Ledger chronicles the story of his childhood in great detail. From his life in Cherry Hill, to his abrupt '97 move to Canada and eventually Southern California, to how his battle-tested family still managed to make sure their son had the chance to cultivate his burgeoning hockey career, the article is an compelling read.
He didn’t hear his dad — insurance company owner Robert Stevenson — storm into the family home in Cherry Hill, drunk, looking for his mother, Melody. Stevenson was sure his wife was taking drugs.
Their only child didn’t hear the screams and the panic. He didn’t see the bizarre chase down the street into a neighbor’s house. His father, an amateur boxer, ripped the door off the hinges and whaled away at the love of his life, causing her to bleed from her mouth and sending her to Cooper University Hospital in Camden for four days with four broken ribs, a fracture to her skull and a punctured lung.
Robert Stevenson was charged with attempted murder and five other felony counts. He tried to obtain a passport using the name of a dead baby before jumping bail. He fled to Canada and his wife, who had forgiven him, and his son later joined him.
Robert Stevenson and his son changed their names and lived under assumed identities and the family lived on the lam.
Today, the boy who protected his family’s dark and complicated secret for much of his life is a pivotal part of the U.S. Olympic hockey team that faces Canada.
The name on the back of his hockey jersey is different from the one he was born with, but Bobby Ryan realized he needed to tell the truth and no longer hides from it.
Take three minutes and read the entire article. You won't regret it.