THE kids Richard Ramsey coaches call him 'Coach Abueva.' Not only because he bears a striking resemblance to Alaska Aces superstar Calvin Abueva — the near identical baritone voice and the well-built physique, to name just a few - but mainly because the tag has a familial ring to it.
You see, Ramsey, a former star player of De Ocampo Memorial College in Sta. Mesa, Manila, is the long-lost brother of the 2013 PBA Rookie of the Year and now Gilas Pilipinas mainstay, and fate has written a complex story for the brothers than any sports dramas could ever have.
Hesitant to talk when Spin.ph chanced upon him during the De Ocampo Cobras’ game in the Milcu Got Skills Basketball tournament held at the Lyceum Gym, Ramsey eventually gave in to reveal how he is related, became separated, and eventually got reconnected to the man known as 'The Beast.'
According to Ramsey, abject poverty forced Evelyn Abueva, then a balut vendor in Angeles City, to give up her second child with former US serviceman Calvin Sweeney for adoption — at the tender age of three months.
“Hindi po ako lumaki sa tunay kong pamilya, hindi po kami sabay na lumaki ni Kuya (Calvin) kasi ilang months pa lang ako, pina-ampon na ako ni Mama Belen (Evelyn). Mahirap lang po kasi kami nun, kaya napilitan ang nanay ko na ipa-adopt ako,” said Ramsey, who only learned of the story after his foster parent died in 2010.
“Hindi po ako lumaki sa Pampanga, after kasi pumutok yung (Mount) Pinatubo, dinala na ako nung bago kong parents sa Siargao, dun na ako lumaki,” he said, revealing that he can’t speak Kapampangan unlike his Kuya Calvin.
The brothers could have crossed paths as early as 2009, but fate had other plans. They could even have played together at San Sebastian had Ramsey not opted to transfer to De Ocampo College that year.
“Dati po ako sa Staglets eh, nung high school. Kaso umalis ako run, at siya namang pasok nila Calvin sa Baste (San Sebastian),” he said.
“Dahil nga po sa dati akong Staglet, akala ng tao ako pa rin 'yung nasa Team A, eh si Calvin nga po 'yun. Akala nung iba, nagpalit ako ng apelyido,” he added chuckling.
Their first meeting finally came in 2010, where Ramsey’s adoptive mother brought him to Pampanga to meet his biological mother, Evelyn, and his three siblings.
“Nung time na yun, nasa Manila ako. Tinawagan ako ng nanay ko para ma-meet ko sina Mama Belen at si Kuya,” recalled the 25-year-old Ramsey, who was beginning to make a name for himself at the time by playing a unique yet - to Calvin's fans at least - familiar style on the basketball court.
Ramsey’s former mentor and De Ocampo head coach Toto Dujillo bared that during his prime, Ramsey bore the same intensity and ruggedness of his Kuya Calvin.
“Halos kasing laro ni Calvin ‘yan, maayos rin siyang player nun. Masipag saka takbo ng takbo. Ang nakikita kong lamang niya kay Calvin is, ito mas may shooting, 2-3 rin ang posisyon niya, ganun din kay Calvin, pareho sila,” said Dujillo, who is also an assistant at Cagayan Valley Rising Suns.
However, an unfortunate knee injury suffered in a 'ligang labas' game in 2011 derailed Ramsey’s hoop dreams and ruined the possibility of seeing the brothers playing in the PBA together.
“Na-injure ako sa tuhod, naglaro kasi ako sa ligang labas sa Zamboanga. Hindi ko na napagamot injury ko kasi nahiya na rin ako na ipasagot pa sa school, dahil hindi naman function ng school ‘yung nilaruan ko, kasalanan ko rin,” said Richard, who was raised by Richard and Annabel Ramsey.
At present, Ramsey remains connected to the game as an assistant coach and brings the same passion - and the by-now familiar Abueva temper - to the job.
“Mabait yang bata na yan, madisiplina siya as coach, yun nga lang, merun ring temper,” he added of Ramsey, who Spin.ph witnessed attending diligently to the players' and head coach's needs during the team's game.
Unlike his popular brother, Ramsey said he prefers to remain under the radar.
“Ayaw ko sana magpakilala sa inyo, kaso nagulat ako na nalaman ninyo. Bibihira lang kasi ang sinasabihan ko n'yan. Ayaw ko kasi isipin ng iba na ginagamit ko si kuya at kasikatan niya,” he said.
“Gusto ko rin kasi bigyan si kuya ng privacy niya. Gusto ko kung may marating man ako sa basketball, pinaghirapan ko,” he added.
Ramsey admits that he’s in constant communication with his older brother, pointing out that it is in fact Abueva who seeks to reconnect some more to make up for lost time.
“Lagi kami nag-uusap, lalo na pag may problema ako, sa kanya ako agad tumatakbo. Minsan nga inaasar niya ako, bakit daw ba 'pag may problema lang ako tumatakbo sa kanya. Nahihiya rin kasi ako na abalahin siya,” said Ramsey.
“Matulungin at maalalahanin si kuya. Madalas nga niya ako tanungin kung gusto kung bumalik sa basketball. Sabi ko, okay na ko sa career ko ngayon, mag-alaga ng mga batang players,” added the soft-spoken coach.
Watch video of the interview with Richard Ramsey: