Ricky Byrdsong

Ricky Byrdsong (1956-1999)

Teams coached: Detroit Mercy Titans, Northwestern Wildcats
Detroit record: 53-87 (.379)
Northwestern record: 36-76 (.321)
Overall record: 89-163 (.353)

Career Accomplishments:

  • NCAA National Championships:  0
  • NCAA Tournament Appearances:  0
  • NIT Championships:  0
  • NIT Appearances:  1  (1994)

Coaching Career (head coach, unless noted):

1993-1997 Northwestern
1988-1993 Detroit Mercy
1982-1988 Arizona (asst)
1980-1982 Eastern Illinois (asst)
1979-1980 Western Michigan (asst)
1978-1979 Iowa State (asst)

Ricky Birdsong Facts

  • Ricky Byrdsong
  • Born June 24, 1956
  • Died July 3, 1999
  • Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Alma Mater: Iowa State University (BA, 1978)
  • Growing up in poverty in Atlanta, Birdsong became a starter at Frederick Douglass HS
    • Started his collegiate career by playing two seasons at Pratt JC in Kansas
    • Finished at Iowa State, where he served as a team captain on Lynn Nance‘s squad
  • After graduation, he spent one year on Nance‘s staff then one year under Les Wothke at Western Michigan
  • Hired in 1980 to be an assistant at Eastern Illinois under Rick Samuels, one of his fellow assistants at ISU
  • Moved on to Arizona in 1982, spending the season as one of Ben Lindsey’s assistants
  • Became the head coach at Detroit Mercy in 1988, going 53-87 over five seasons at the helm
  • Moved on to Northwestern in 1993, leading the Wildcats to the NIT in his first season
    • Finished below .500 in each of the next three seasons and was let go in 1997
  • Stayed in the Chicagoland-area, serving as VP of Community Affairs at Aon Corporation
  • In July 1999, Byrdsong was jogging with two of his children in Skokie, IL when he was shot and killed by a white supremacist who was in the midst of a shooting spree; as an African-American, Byrdsong was seemingly targeted for his race
    • Witnesses said the shooter pulled up in a car alongside the former coach and started firing
    • The shooter killed or injured many other minorities in the days after and committed suicide before being brought to trail
    • Survived by his wife, Sherialyn, and their three children, Sabrina, Kelly and Ricky Jr.
    • The Ricky Byrdsong Foundation was established in Evanston to curb hate and violence in the community
      • Every year, the organization holds the Race Against Hate 5K/10K

Ricky Birdsong Coaching Tree