The first thing you notice if you haven’t seen Ted Ginn Sr. in some time is the weight loss. He looks terrific. He looks healthy.
Ted Ginn Sr. with Chris Worley at Saturday's Ohio North-South Classic
Then you quickly remember that he spent most of last football season in a hospital bed fighting cancer and you recall how concerned you were for his health throughout the whole ordeal.
But after just a few moments of speaking with him face to face you realize he’s his same old self, just a little bit lighter in the britches now and you thank the Lord.
“I went through a little something and now I’m back,” Ginn said. “God tests you all the time and I’m great. I’m dealing with it every day.”
The rumors were running rampant in the fall about how serious his condition really was.
“I had pancreatic cancer,” Ginn said. “I had 5 percent (odds of) living and I’m blessed. I’m a miracle. God kept me here for a reason.
“I was in bad shape. I was under a lot of pressure just to be alive. But I’m here. God spared me and I’m here to move on.”
He says he’s cancer free now. He’s beaten those 5 percent odds.
“I’m good. I’m clean. I don’t worry about it,” Ginn said. “I just worry about celebrating life right now, that’s all I care about. And being able to serve. That’s what I do. That’s what I worry about, not being able to serve. As long as I can serve I’m good.”
Ginn was a Glenville assistant for 21 years before becoming the head coach in 1997
After attending a couple of his team’s scrimmages last summer, his health took a turn for the worse.
“I’ve been sick since August and I didn’t get out of the house until two days after Christmas in December,” Ginn said. “And I just went back to work a week ago.”
Health concerns aside, he was just as consumed with not being able to do some of the lifesaving things that he normally does on a daily basis.
“I wouldn’t say that was tough, I would say that’s what kept me alive,” he said. “Knowing that your purpose in life -- if you don’t have a purpose in life, if you don’t have a reason for living, and if you’re selfish, arrogant and not focused on something in life -- if you don’t have a calling, then you’re a dead man.
“Just me having my school, my programs – both football and track, and knowing my kids and knowing my purpose in life it kept me alive.”
He felt all the prayers and well wishes all the time he was laid up.
“Oh yeah, I know everybody was praying for me all over the world. It’s obvious, I’m here,” Ginn said. “So I had to focus on what I do and what I do is save lives. And what I do kept me alive. Along with my family, the love I have for my family and the love that I have for people all over the state and all over the country. That’s what kept me alive.”
So over a period of months his office changed from a hospital bed, to his home and now it’s back at the Ginn Academy, which he opened in 2007 as a haven for at-risk inner city students.
Ginn was the winning coach for the East side in the 2006 U.S. Army All-American Bowl
“I’m back to work. I’m going to die working, that’s what I do,” Ginn said. “I’m not full-time but I’m there. I can’t move around like I want to but I’m there.”
And once again he’s involved with the track team and the football program.
“I’m back to track and I’m doing what I do in football,” Ginn said. “I’ve got some people in place right now till track season is over and then I’ll go back to my role of doing what I do in football.”
Although some minor pain is still a part of the equation, Ginn is feeling about as good as he possibly can after everything that’s he’s been through.
“You’re not where you need to be when you’re in what they call ‘deep condition,’ when you lay down for about 60 or 70 days in the hospital,” Ginn said. “You’re not going to be feeling great for quite some time.”
Ginn’s story began as a youth in Louisiana. He and his family moved to Cleveland when he was 11. He played center and linebacker at Glenville, where he graduated in 1974 and also met his future wife Jeanette. He worked various jobs before becoming a school security guard. He spent 21 years as an assistant football coach – 10 as an unpaid volunteer – before becoming the head coach in 1997.
The rest has been history as Ginn has led Glenville to a 153-35 record, reached the 2009 Division I state championship game (a heartbreaking 16-15 loss to Hilliard Davidson) and sent nearly 150 prospects to colleges across the country on athletic scholarships.
Included in that group are 20 players who have signed or committed to Ohio State in a 13-year period. That haul includes the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith as well as Ginn’s son Ted Ginn Jr., Donte Whitner and Jermale Hines. It also includes current Buckeyes Marcus Hall, Christian Bryant, De’van Bogard and incoming freshman Christopher Worley. Offensive lineman Marcelys Jones is verbaled for OSU’s 2014 class.
Ginn pictured at a birthday party
On the field, on the track and in the classroom, Ginn has helped his kids accomplish so much. And he said he’s got a long and prosperous future ahead now.
“No question. I’m going to do whatever God wants me to do,” Ginn said. “I just have to make sure that I have the right people around me, that love me and love what I do for kids. And that’s all that matters right now. I have football and track and school and that’s what’s important to me. And my family. That’s it. And that’s big.”
Ginn understands that he’s been tested and he’s overcome.
“God sends you through things to test your faith and once your faith is being tested, He knows how much to put on you and He’s testing you to see if you’re true,” Ginn said. “I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you if I wasn’t true in what I do.”
And he’s thankful for all the love and support from Buckeye Nation for not only his self but for his son Ted Ginn Jr. as well. The younger Ginn left the San Francisco 49ers – after ripping off a 32-yard punt return in the Super Bowl – as an unrestricted free agent and signed with the Carolina Panthers.
“He’s healthy. He’s in North Carolina trying to get a chance to exhibit his talent that God gave him,” Ginn said. “He’s got a job. So that’s big about anything. As long as he’s working, we’re all right. Ted still got it. He’s just got to get the opportunity to show it. So maybe he’ll do it (with Carolina).”
Also Check Out
We have video highlights from the game and features on Darron Lee, Christopher Worley and Gareon Conley below: