The story focuses on Mathews’ relationship with his mother, Tricia. She gave birth to him when she was 16. Tricia's mother was addicted to methamphetamines. Tricia soon became homeless and she and her new-born son lived for four months in a 1969 Oldsmobile. She’d bathe Ryan in a park.
The two persevered and Mathews became a high school, college and now NFL running back. An interesting angle to the feature, reported by Tom Friend, is that Mathews grew up idolizing San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson, when he lived in Bakersfield, Ca.
It was Tomlinson, of course, who Mathews replaced this season. The Chargers started to focus on drafting Mathews out of Fresno State shortly after they cut Tomlinson. San Diego moved up 16 spots to take Mathews, who led the NCAA in rushing last season as a junior, at No. 12.
Mathews has been impressive as a rookie, but he has dealt with several injuries. He had to leave Sunday’s win over Houston with a nagging ankle injury. The team hopes he is healthy when the Chargers return from their bye Nov. 22 against Denver on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”
Mathews has 382 yards rushing and he is averaging 4.2 yards per carry. If he can stay healthy, the Chargers appear to have a quality player, who has overcome a terrible beginning to his life.