LIVONIA, Mich. - Ryan Kesler is a forward for the Vancouver Canucks and will play the same position for Team USA in the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Ryan grew up in Livonia. His father, Mike, played college hockey and coached various levels for almost 40 years. It's safe to say hockey was a way of life in the Kesler household.
Ryan's mom, Linda, said her son's love for the sport was evident very early on.
"Every book, going all the way back, all his drawings were him playing hockey. It was all stick figures and everything was hockey, hockey, hockey," Linda said.
Ryan's passion for the sport paid off. He found himself in the NHL at just 19 years old. His career grew from there. In 2011, he was named to the All-Star team and won the Selke Trophy – an award
given to the best defensive forward in the league.
His mom said she's still shocked.
"I really never though he was going to make it to the NHL. It's still hard for me to imagine he's out there with the best," she said.
This is also his second time on Team USA.
In 2010, Team USA lost a heartbreaker to the Canadians in the gold medal game. Sidney Crosby scored the game-winner in overtime. Ryan's parents said that moment was especially tough for Ryan. They waited for more than an hour to meet with him after the game, but he never showed up.
Mike said his son told him that he was so angry that he had just been sitting there with his equipment still on. But Ryan and his parents know that a second chance is right around the corner.
"They're all good teams. That's why it's the Olympics. You know, best players, playing for the best teams," Ryan said.
Ryan himself is considered a feisty player, with an engine that doesn't quit. His surplus energy got him in trouble when he was younger. In fact, when asked if he was a troublemaker growing up, he answers: "Yeah, one hundred percent. I'll admit it."
But he's got a fun side, too.
His parents said he once sang "that big butt song" at a banquet.
"I think David Booth actually paid me some money to go do that. I think it was like $5. It's amazing. I cherish that $5," Ryan said.
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