Just after the first of the year, I had a chance to sit down and talk with La Salles Ramon Galloway. Hearing his story from a friend in South Carolina over the summer, I was intrigued. Galloway received an NCAA hardship waiver, something very rare. It meant he didnt have to sit out a year when he transferred from University of South Carolina to La Salle.
So how did he get it, what were the reasons behind it? Thats where the story began.
Galloway grew up around Germantown, not too far from La Salle. But he doesnt go back to his old stomping grounds that much. If he does, its only for a quick visit.
You see, Galloway left Germantown when he was 15-years-old, making the mature decision at the time that if he wanted to live his dreams of playing hoops, he needed separation from the scene he was around in the area -- pretty heady for a kid his age. So Galloway headed to Florida, to Dwyer High School. His aunt was a teacher in the area, and Galloways mom, Karen Davis, knew it would be the best way for her son to grow and achieve. And he did just that. Playing against some top level competition, future D-I standouts, and getting a top quality education in the process.
Darrin Horn from Western Kentucky came calling, offering Galloway something hed dreamed of, a Division I college basketball scholarship. When Horn was hired as the head coach at South Carolina in Galloways senior year, he made good on that offer. Off Ramon went to start a new chapter in another new state.
While with the Gamecocks, Galloway showed flashes of his raw talent. In his two seasons there, he averaged nearly 11 points a game. But after his sophomore year, there were other talented guards coming into the system, and he and his coach knew his playing time would be cut. Thats when Galloway started looking elsewhere.
Coming back to Philadelphia was an easy decision, Galloway says. But when he learned there was a way for him to play right away, it was a no-brainer. The officials at La Salle talked to him about that NCAA hardship waiver. The NCAA only grants a few a year, and the process calls for Galloway and his family to open up about their problems and, for lack of a better word, hardships. Galloway and his family know how lucky he was to receive the waiver, and think it was a sign of good things to come.
But good things are few and far between right now for Ramons family. His grandfather, who Ramon credits with his ability to adapt so easily, has cancer and was given six months to live this summer. His mother has to take care of her father and cannot regularly work. Galloways father is blind, shot in the head 18 years ago when Ramon was just two-years old. Galloway has nine siblings, and his older brother, closest in age to him, is in jail. But Galloway smiles, still, with all of that going on behind the scenes. Hes a remarkable young man.
Galloway says he is so happy because he can be a little bit of a bright spot for his family; when they are down, or thinking about the negative things going on, he knows they can come and watch him play at La Salle, and get a little break from reality. His grandfather, who needs a double transplant, has found a new strength, and has even attended a few games. If you are ever at Tom Gola arena, you cant miss the Ramon cheering section. His mother and father are at every game, cheering and clapping and watching. His father, wearing sunglasses, follows the calls from either the loud speaker or from Karen. And he hears a lot of Ramon Galloway cheers.
The junior guard from La Salle is lighting it up for the Explorers this year. Hes their leading scorer at 15 points a game, and if you ask his coach and teammates, hes a big reason their team is off to one of the best starts in recent memory. Dr. John Giannini, La Salles head coach, says the energy Galloway brings, both on and off the court, is infectious. It helps the other players gear up for a game, or buckle down on defense. Hes their spark plug. And he and the Explorers are in the middle of the longest home winning streak in Tom Gola Arena.
I spoke with Galloway for nearly an hour, and I think I could have sat and talked with him for hours more. His spirit, smile and focus are something to envy. I found myself wanting to keep asking him, how do you do it? He answered it the same: Its just me.
E-mail Amy Fadool at email@example.com