To Lamptey, Ansah’s physical metamorphosis, because of football, is stunning. Ziggy went from a skinny kid to a muscle-bound, 6-foot-6 giant that now weighs 270 pounds.
“It’s so surprising to see him now, how big he is,” he said. “But I can never miss that smile. It just brings back old memories. We’d sit together on the grass on the (soccer) pitch and crack jokes and laugh. He was so cheerful. We were really good friends. We’d just laugh and smile and people would be wondering, ‘What’s wrong with these guys, laughing and being happy?’”
When the fun-loving Ansah showed up at the NFL draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York City wearing 3-D glasses, it made perfect sense to Lamptey.
“That’s part of his personality,” he said. “The kids at school really loved him so much. Everywhere he went, they’d chant, ‘Ziggy, Ziggy, Ziggy.’ He was so fun. Everyone is talking about Ziggy. They’re happy for him.”
While living in Ghana, Ziggy harbored big dreams and he eventually achieved them — just not in the way anyone, including Ziggy himself, expected. More than anything, to many people in Ghana, Ansah represents something that transcends the NFL. He is the embodiment of the American dream.
“I am so happy to see him reach such heights,” Lamptey said. “It’s a great motivation to me and to others. I’ve read about, and I know about, so many athletes, musicians and presidents. Having someone I know personally reaching such heights is such an inspiration to me. I know him. I grew up with him.”
Ziggy frequently confided to Lamptey during his time at BYU, as Ansah struggled to adjust to a new sport, not to mention a new culture. Going from the humid, tropical climes of Ghana to the thin, dry mountain air of Utah was not easy. Until his arrival in Provo, Ziggy had never seen snow or a football game. Ghana's population is 99 percent black, while at BYU, less than 1 percent of the student body is black.
And, of course, his hoop dreams never materialized. Twice, Ziggy tried out for BYU’s basketball team. He was cut both times.
“He told me how challenging things were and that he needed to work hard to make things right,” Lamptey said. “There were times when he told me that he was a bit down and things weren’t going so well in school. There was a time that school re-opened and he did not go the first day. I was trying to find out what was wrong. I tried to encourage him. Things got better. He doesn’t give up. That’s one thing I know him for. He works hard until he achieves something, especially the things that he’s focused on. He never loses focus. He’s very hard-working.”
Displayed in Lamptey’s bedroom is a photo of Ziggy, wearing his Detroit Lions uniform.
“It’s nice to have it hanging on the wall,” Lamptey said. “That’s my friend. He’s made it.”
Lamptey is one of many Ghanaians who will be clicking through the cable TV channels, and surfing the Internet, over the next few months, searching for glimpses of Ziggy’s exploits with the Lions.
No doubt, from thousands of miles away on a different continent, they’ll be watching his rookie season — and his NFL career — intently.
Even if they have no clue what Ziggy is trying to do on the football field.
- BYU's linebacker Kyle Van Noy engaged to Miss...
- BYU basketball: 3 players record...
- LDS general authorities make appearance at...
- Local NFL watch: How Utah players fared in...
- Utah basketball: Runnin' Utes come up just...
- College football re-rankings: Where do BYU,...
- High school basketball: Tuesday's prep roundup
- Utah Jazz: Comparisons inevitable between...
- Mike Sorensen: Despite disappointing... 182
- BYU football: Cougar offense rebounds... 84
- Utah football: Utes end season with... 76
- BYU, Utah State basketball: Second-half... 74
- College football re-rankings: Where do... 56
- Utah basketball: Runnin' Utes come up... 56
- Unbeaten Utes hit the road for the... 55
- Sources: Former BYU quarterback Steve... 48