Legendary NYC streetballer Jack Ryan passes on skills to daughter, Morgan

Posted at 7:55 PM, Feb 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-10 19:50:41-05

Scotch Plains, NJ (PIX11)- “I love making people happy," Morgan Ryan said.

Morgan Ryan is like most 10-year-old girls.

“I like to do artwork, basketball, soccer [and] girl scouts," she said.

But it's on the court where she's different from anyone else her age.KnicksGame1

Morgan, or Mo for short, is the youngest female member of the Harlem Wizards, the long-running performance team that focuses on tricks.

"I throw it up and [Air Jamaica] dunks it so the crowd goes wild for that and it’s really fun!”

Moves she learned from her dad, before she could even walk.

"We have this picture of me when I was little, and he spun the ball right over my crib," Mo said, "All of a sudden I just lift my finger up.”

"And as she got older, maybe one, she was able to grip a pen and I’d spin the ball on the pen," Jack Ryan said. "Then every time she’d give me the pen to spin   the ball on her.”

Mo's dad is none other than legendary New York City streetballer, Jack Ryan, a.k.a Black Jack.

“When I played basketball it was about let’s make it my show,” he said. "The only time I did feel good was on the basketball court, so that’s where I wanted to be all the time.”

It's a sport he remembers watching his older brother play at the neighborhood court in Park Slope.

“I felt like if I could play basketball like him then I’m going to be the cool dude in the park," Jack said. "So he took me under his wing and taught me how to plaYoungJack1y.”

Practicing day and night, Jack got good, really good.

“I always knew about this place called W. 4th St and I said let’s see how good I am.”

WEB EXTRA: Jack Ryan gives us tips on best spots at W. 4th St. court

“When they were on one end, I had my basketball, I cuffed it and dunked it," Jack remembered. "[I] got in on the next game, played really well and that was it.”

Talent he never took to the next level.

“I was a coach’s worst nightmare," Jack said. "So to play in someone’s system, I just couldn’t do that.”

After passing on an NBA tryout in his early 20s, Jack got a second chance.

“I did good, I hurt my knee during camp," Jack remembered. "I got cut the last day,  July 27, 1990. It was my 29th birthday.“

Life went downhill for awhile, he turned to drinking and went form job to job. But finally things changed.

“When I became a Harlem Wizard in 1997, I hit the nail right on the head,” Jack said with a smile. “I embraced it and i said I’m not letting this go. This is why I’m here.”

WEB EXTRA: Jack Ryan shows how to do spinning 8-ball finale

lg_mo  But Jack's biggest joy came seven years later.

"They put her next to me and I just went ahhhh, instant love!"

Now they're teammates, performing together for the last nine years at NBA and college games.

"I think it was at the Knicks game," Mo remembered. "I signed eight autographs and he signed none.”

But what makes this father-daughter duo even more special, they're best friends.

"The two musketeers!"

“We’re breaking a lot of things in the house," Jack joked. "Her mom’s getting mad”

“We always break stuff believe me,” Mo laughed.

FullSizeRender(5)When they're not busy causing trouble, they're thinking about her future in the game.

“I really want to play at UConn,” Mo said.

“I want her to go to her mom’s [Jennifer DiMaggio] school and break all of her records," Jack said. "Which is a division 2 school, Pace University.

With a two-time All-American for a mom, and this guy for a dad, it doesn't seem like Mo will have any problem pursuing her dreams.

“I just want her to be happy and have fun," Jack said. "Whatever she wants to do, it’s up to her.”


Jack's story might soon be hitting the big screen.

WEB EXTRA: Justin Timberlake gives shout out to Jack Ryan at concert

It has been rumored that Justin Timberlake will star as Jack Ryan in a movie about the streetballer's life.

Additional footage courtesy of documentary 'Release: The Jack Ryan Story.'