Ricky Watters was born on April 7, 1969 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He was adopted at a young age by his parents Ulysees "Big Jim" Watters and Frances Marie Watters. His father earned a Purple Heart in the Korean War and his mother was a nurse who took care of elderly patients. Ricky excelled in several sports...basketball, baseball and football. However, football became a passion at an early age and everyone noticed. Ricky starred on the Pee Wee, Pony, and Midget (Varsity) levels for the Harrisburg Packers and O.L.B.S (Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament) the catholic grade school he attended from first to eighth grade. He went on to show coaches and scouts that he was a special talent at Bishop McDevitt High School, where he became the number one recruit in the country. Sought after by every major college program in the NCAA, he decided to sign with the University of Notre Dame where he became an all American wide receiver and running back and became a starter on the 1988 National Championship team. Many people don't know that Ricky studied Architecture at Notre Dame because he loved to draw and excelled in math and engineering. After a solid four year campaign at the college level, Ricky was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers and went on to have a Hall of Fame caliber career with 3 different franchises. His journey wasn't easy and he had many challenges along the way, but he credits his parents, coaches and teachers for keeping him focused and resilient. A true champion, Ricky is on a very short list of players to win championships on the grade school, high school, college, and pro levels.
After his stellar playing career, Ricky lived in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Orlando. Ricky worked closely with Jim Brown and his Amer-I-Can program to mentor gang members and young men in the prison system. He also started an independent record label "Tigero Records" which he named after his first son who passed away a few weeks after birth when he was playing for the Seahawks. Ricky produced music and wrote song lyrics for himself as well as other artists in the industry. He was recently inducted into to the Central Florida Sports Hall of Fame, along with Glenn "Doc" Rivers coach of the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic. He was also inducted into the PA Sports Hall of Fame Capital Area Chapter, his hometown.
Ricky has been recognized for his philanthropic work with pediatric cancer patients and at-risk youth in Central Florida, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Seattle and the Bay Area in addition to his athletic excellence. He still remembers meeting his number 1 fan, a five year old girl who had terminal cancer. Her wish was to meet Ricky Watters and he responded by shaving his head in her honor. Many communities have benefited from his giving back through mentoring, motivational speaking and fundraising and genuine spirit. As an adoptee who was given up by a young single mother, Ricky’s passion is to help bring awareness to the many children and teens in foster care and in single parent homes who need a positive role model in their lives. He and his wife, Catherina, spend countless hours mentoring at risk youth teaching them valuable life skills that will aid them throughout their lives.
Ricky is also an advocate for former players who have risked their lives playing football and suffered permanent injury. He made the words "For Who For What" famous in 1995 when he was questioned for not going up for a pass thrown late up the middle when the game was already out of reach. He defended his actions by explaining he had to make a judgment call in a fraction of a second when he saw the safety out of the corner of his eye. His instincts took over and chose preservation versus injury. Ricky who was the franchise player for the Eagles led his team to the Playoffs that year and was selected to the Pro Bowl, All-Pro and All-Madden teams. "For Who For What" has evolved into a motto for wounded warriors on and off the field, many of whom have paid the ultimate price...paralysis and death.
Ricky also supports local sports organizations and provides scholarships to his own football programs to make them affordable to all who wish to attend. His team of qualified coaches which includes teammates from the Notre Dame '88 National Championship team and the NFL make the Ricky Watters Pro Football Experience an event not to be missed. Ricky's camp not only teaches football skills but life skills and respect for those who came before and paved the way.
Ricky met his wife Catherina while playing with the San Francisco Forty-Niners. She attended Santa Clara University for her undergraduate degree and went on to obtain her JD from New York Law School. They are proud parents of two boys, Ricky Jr. and Shane Watters. Ricky shares his love of music, poetry and sports with his children and encourages them to pursue their passions. Ricky Jr. is a developing singer and musician pursuing an entertainment career.
Ricky’s wife Catherina advises former players in disability claims and transitioning after football. Their combined roles as an NFL player, NFL wife, father, mother, and attorney have provided the insight necessary to help players and their spouses make the right decisions for their families and handle the pressures of an NFL career.