He was talented and strong, a celebrated prep football standout at Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania. He left Valley Forge as the school's all-time leading rusher with more than 4,000 career yards, ranked among the all-time Pennsylvania state leaders with then-NFL veterans Matt Suhey and Jimmy Cefalo. But Ricketts was different, too, a young African-American man introduced at an early age to the possibilities beyond those defined by the painted lines of a football field. "My training started before I went to college,'' he said. Ricketts grew up in New Jersey in a family of business owners. His grandfather, Albert Ricketts, founded a construction company that Ricketts' father, Kenneth Ricketts, later operated. Ricketts, whose full name is Kenneth Michael Ricketts, started helping with payroll at AK&K Construction — hence the second "K" in the final iteration of the company name — when he was 13.