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Desmond Ridder reacts to the Cincinnati crowd.
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bearcats had zero margin for error if they wanted to make the College Football Playoff. Head coach Luke Fickell rounded up the troops, scheduled power five competition in Indiana and Notre Dame and marched through the 2021 season with a blank loss column. Fickell deserves plenty of credit for shaping his program into one of the best in the country and for taking the Bearcats into the Cotton Bowl, where they would lose to Alabama. It is impossible to undersell just how transformative Fickell’s leadership has been for Cincinnati.

His senior leader, quarterback Desmond Ridder, deserves just as much praise for leading the American Athletic Conference team in the huddle.

Ridder’s path to becoming one of college football’s best quarterbacks started as a youngin at Holy Family Parochial School in Louisville, Kentucky, where he learned to play the position. A three-star recruit out of St. Xavier High School, Ridder committed to play for then University of Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville over Eastern Kentucky.

Fickell honored Ridder’s scholarship when he took over for Tuberville in 2017. Since arriving on campus, Ridder has only won the 2018 AAC Rookie of the Year, two AAC Offensive Player of the Year awards, has been named to the first-team All-AAC twice and steered the Bearcats to a 44-6 record as the starter.

No one could have predicted the Cincinnati signal caller’s success, which will assuredly net him a career in the National Football League. There isn’t a person happier for him than his mom.

Desmond Ridder’s Parents

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Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder was born to his mother Sarah Ridder when she was 15 years old. His biological father wasn’t in the picture from the pregnancy onward.

“We pretty much grew up together,” Sarah Ridder told Sports Illustrated. “We were best friends.”

“We were able to guide each other,” Desmond said. “It was open and free. I’m not going to say there wasn’t strictness and parenting, but a lot of things she let me learn on my own. She was always going to be there, but you don’t always have to ask for help. She let me be independent but guided me when I needed it.”

Desmond and his mother lived with his grandmother and aunt and uncle in the Highlands neighborhood of Louisville. His grandma Jan takes credit for teaching Ridder how to properly throw a football.

Maybe she’ll receive a finders fee after he’s inevitably selected in the NFL Draft and his net worth receives a big boost.

Sarah actively supports her son on social media, posting all about his touchdown passes against the likes of SMU. Along with his mom, Desmond also has plenty of support from his stepdad, who has reportedly been in his life since he was 5. He also appears to have a younger sister.

Ridder’s ethnicity is half black, half white.

Desmond Ridder’s Daughter

Being a college football player is tough, but balancing football, school work and parenthood is another thing entirely. The Ohio-based American football quarterback welcomed a daughter with his longtime girlfriend Claire Cornett in April of 2021.

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“Everyone please welcome Daddy’s little Princess and my pride and joy Leighton Elizabeth Ridder to this wonderful world… You are loved to the moon and back,” he said in an Instagram post.

Ridder is thrilled with the new addition to his personal life and has taken the “girl dad” title in stride, as showcased by his feature on ESPN’s “College Gameday.’

As the Cincinnati quarterback progresses through his football career, whether it be with the Houston Texans, Pittsburgh Steelers or another NFL team, you can count on his mother, girlfriend and daughter being 110 percent behind him.

MORE: Bryce Young’s Parents Raised a College Football Superstar

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Joe Grobeck About the author:
Joe is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and lives in Austin, Texas. He believes Ndaumkong Suh should've won the 2009 Heisman and is an avid basketball fan.
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