La Salle guard Ramon Galloway’s father has never seen him dribble a basketball.
Gerald Galloway has been blind since he was shot in the head during an altercation on the streets of Philadelphia in 1993. He was 25. Ramon was just 2.
But Gerald rarely misses a home game and is expected to be courtside Sunday night at the Sprint Center when La Salle plays Mississippi in the NCAA Tournament. Through descriptions by Ramon’s cousin, Hasan Morrison, and from the roars of the crowd, Gerald will know about every move his son tries, every shot he takes, and even any mistakes he makes.
“Even though my dad can’t see the game, his feel for the game is tremendous, because whenever I’m doing something I’m not supposed to do, after the game he always tells me,” said Galloway, a 6-foot-3 senior who leads the Explorers in both scoring (17.3 points per game) and assists (3.8).
“He just knows the swings of the game because he played the game before. He just has a great feel for it.”
His father’s handicap is one of several family issues that led to Galloway to transfer to La Salle from South Carolina, where he played his first two seasons.
Galloway’s maternal grandfather, Carlos Moore, 61, has liver cancer and has been on a transplant list for more than a year. And his older brother, Gerald III, was imprisoned for robbery in January 2011.
“Grandpa is still currently on the list and trying to get the surgery done,” Galloway said. “A couple of times it fell through, so I’m still praying for him. I’m extremely happy he’s still living. When I transferred, the doctors told me he only had six months to live.”
Galloway said he speaks often with Gerald III — who is a year older — including Friday morning before the Explorers’ victory over Kansas State.
Galloway escaped the perils of Germantown, one of the roughest neighborhoods in Philadelphia, when some basketball connections enabled him to spend his last two years of high school in Palm Beach, Fla. That led to a scholarship at South Carolina, where he averaged 7.8 points as a freshman and 10.7 as a sophomore.
But his family came first, so when Galloway decided to transfer to La Salle, he asked the NCAA for a hardship waiver so he would not have to sit out last season. A letter from his grandfather was part of the appeals package.
“My grandfather was a huge influence on my life,” Galloway said of Moore, a retired driver of 18-wheel trucks. “My dad got shot, so he wasn’t able to be there hands-on. Everything I learned through music, dancing, anything, he told me how to do it … play instruments … he helped me out. I used to travel with him when I was younger … I was used to traveling, getting out of the city.
“For this story line and everything that’s happening I’m extremely blessed. I just can’t thank Coach (John Giannini) enough for giving me the opportunity to play this game the way I know I can play the game.”
Once Galloway arrived at La Salle, he switched his jersey number from 12 to the un-guard-like number 55 — representing 55 East Bringhurst St., where he grew up.
In Galloway’s first season, La Salle went 21-13 and played in the NIT, its first postseason berth since 1991-92. This year, the Explorers are 23-9, and their wins over Boise State and Kansas State last week were La Salle’s first NCAA Tournament victories since 1990.
“He was the perfect player at the perfect time for us,” Giannini said. “We underachieved a few years ago, didn’t have great chemistry, but we really liked our young players. We really thought that if Ramon got that waiver, he might give us enough experience, enough depth to make us a legitimately good team, quicker than what most people would think. And that’s what happened.
“The record speaks for itself. I mean, we’ve won 44 games since he’s been on campus. He certainly hasn’t done it alone. He’s needed a lot of help and we’re a true team. But I think he’s the kind of player that might have got us over the hump there a little bit, and he was really important in that.”
As impressive as Galloway’s play has been on the court, dealing with his family’s personal situations has been even more extraordinary.
“He and his family deserve credit for that,” Giannini said. “When he was young, they saw the trouble around him and sent him to Florida because they knew that sticking around Philadelphia and the things going on in and outside of his family were not positive influences. That’s a wise, smart, loving thing to do.
“He leaves when he’s 14, 15, and he comes back as a 20-year-old … as a man. He comes back focused and prepared to deal with some things. He’s strong in character. He’s helped his family. He’s brought a lot of joy to them. He’s been an aid to his father, who lives about a mile from our campus.
“He’s been there for him. It’s just a great success story.”