Sept. 2, 2021

Ryan Clark’s Comeback Story - Your Comeback Story Is Still Being Written

Ryan Clark’s Comeback Story - Your Comeback Story Is Still Being Written

Ryan Clark shares the lessons he learned from his near death experience and how facing death allowed him to realize how precious life really is. Ryan also tells the story of losing one of his oldest friends to suicide in college, and how that changed...


Ryan Clark shares the lessons he learned from his near death experience and how facing death allowed him to realize how precious life really is. Ryan also tells the story of losing one of his oldest friends to suicide in college, and how that changed his perspective on life and why you shouldn’t wait to be a better friend and person to those people in your life, because they aren’t always going to be there.

  • Ryan didn’t grow up rich but he doesn’t have a story of childhood adversity that many people do. Even at an extremely young age Ryan wanted to play football, to the point of preferring to watch a game in 8th grade instead of kissing his then girlfriend.
  • Ryan’s earliest memory of pain involved one of his oldest childhood friends. His friend took his own life and it was Ryan’s first time dealing with the death of someone close to him.
  • Up until that point, Ryan considered himself tough. At his friend’s funeral, he recalls how angry his sister was and how confused he felt. It was his first true memory of pain.
  • Up until that point, you think you have an infinite amount of time with the people that are close to you. Thinking back now, Ryan wonders if the questions his friend was asking him were actually an attempt to get Ryan to ask him the same questions. To start a conversation that could help.
  • The emotion he dealt with most was regret and being upset at himself. It was the first time Ryan started to ask what kind of friend he is. This experience of pain allowed Ryan the introspection so he didn’t have to relive the same relationship with his son.
  • The person who mentored Ryan the most was his oldest first cousin, Gary Lewis. He would talk to him constantly about life and showed him that football is not just about the glamorous lifestyle, it’s about the discipline and focus you need to get the things you want from life.
  • He taught Ryan that even his time is valuable. Gary was the first man other than his father that had a huge impact on who he became.
  • The adversities that Ryan has dealt with ended up being the greatest thing for him. He recalls a day where he felt like he was dying. After losing 20 lbs over a couple of weeks Ryan began shaking uncontrollably and truly believed he was going to die. He began praying for his wife and his family, and upon accepting his fate his shaking stopped.
  • The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him for weeks until he called a doctor in Pittsburg who ran a test. Two hours later Ryan was in the hospital and went through five procedures over the course of the weekend.
  • Ryan had a Sickle Cell Crisis and by the time he got to the hospital, his spleen was four times larger than normal.
  • One of the key lessons Ryan learned from his experience is that not everyone is built the same. The truth about concussions in the NFL was coming out around this time and it gave Ryan the perspective to understand the anxiety and depression that other player’s were experiencing.
  • All these experiences brought lessons in the loss for Ryan. Death can teach us how to live.
  • Everybody’s comeback story is unique to them and it’s not so much about the story as what you take from it. It’s important to value the stories of other people instead of trying to compete with each other.
  • When telling his story, Darren tries to relay the message that you don’t have to be perfect to impact the lives of other people in a positive way.
  • The story doesn’t stop when you overcome a trial. Everyday you have to wake up and defeat the obstacles in front of you. Even with millions of dollars, you have to overcome your bad habits, some of which get amplified by having money.
  • We all want our story to be bigger.
  • Ryan is grateful to simply be alive. He’s also grateful to God for keeping his family safe, especially his mom. He’s even grateful for the trials he’s gone through, as a football player and off the field, and having to grow up once his football career was done.
  • Losing his first passion led to Ryan having to find a new one. Now learning about the world and how he can help has become his new passion.
  • For someone who’s stuck, the first thing to realize is you shouldn’t be embarrassed. It’s never too late to start, but don’t start too late. It doesn’t matter what age you are, you can start feeling and being better right now, but don’t put it off.
  • Don’t wait to feel better. Take action now, and you will feel better. You can’t control how people see and value you and you can’t control how you see and value yourself, just start.
  • Ryan’s comeback story shoutout goes to people who are still in their story and actively working to be better right now.

Ryan Clark

Former American football safety

Ryan Terry Clark is a former American football safety who played in the National Football League. He played college football at Louisiana State University, and was signed by the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2002. Clark also played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and for the Washington Redskins.