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Whitner, Ginn remember Cleveland roots

Posted Feb 2, 2013

NEW ORLEANS -- Cleveland natives Donte Whitner and Ted Ginn Jr. have taken their friendship all the way to Super Bowl XLVII as part of the San Francisco 49ers.

NEW ORLEANS -- As the San Francisco 49ers prepared to compete for the NFL championship against the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., and defensive back Donte Whitner talked about the pride they have in their hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, which they literally carry on their sleeves.

Whitner and Ginn graduated from Glenville High School one year apart and both have the red Glenville “G” tattooed on their arms. Whitner’s tattoo is on his right forearm, and Ginn’s is on his right biceps.

“This was my first tattoo ever,” Ginn said. “It says, ‘God, Glenville, and then, myself.’ That’s how I was raised, team over self, God over team and team over self. That’s been my motto my whole life. I put this 49er team before myself. That’s just how I was raised; that’s how my father implemented things.

“That’s all I have. Born and raised; that’s just where I’m from.”

Whitner and Ginn “feel great” about the tradition Coach Ted Ginn Sr. started with the Glenville Tarblooders, an inner-city school that has represented the city in the Ohio High School Athletic Association playoffs multiple times and placed many athletes into NCAA Division I colleges all over the country in the last decade.

“I learned so many lessons from Coach Ginn, but the No. 1 lesson is just be yourself and always treat people how you want to be treated,” Whitner said. “He lives by that. He does a lot for the community in Cleveland, Ohio, and the community everywhere for kids that just want to go to colleges. The number of kids that he’s been able to get into D-I colleges, and D-II and D-III, and almost 10 NFL players, guys that were drafted, there’s a number of guys at Division I colleges right now, Ohio State, Tennessee, Florida, Florida State, all over the country. For him to be here, and my family to be here, and be on a team with Ted, there’s no greater moment.”

Ginn Jr. added, “It’s a tradition of my Pops. It’s great that I can be sitting in one of the driver’s seats and still be doing what I can do for his legacy. For us to have nine is just amazing. For us to have almost 12 kids spread out in the Big Ten is amazing. We just try to keep it alive and keep giving ways to the young ones back home to keep succeeding.”

Both Whitner and Ginn acknowledged that playing together with the 49ers after spending their careers together at Glenville, and later, The Ohio State University, has been a great experience. Whitner is just hoping the next time they make a trip back to Glenville, it comes with some hardware.

“It’s pretty cool,” Whitner said of still playing with Ginn. “The odds of going to high school with somebody, going to college with somebody, and then, playing in the pros with them and making it to the Super Bowl with him, I don’t know what the odds are at all, but they have to be low. It’s going to be a tremendous thing, especially if we can get the win and share a ring and take two rings back to our hometown. It would be pretty special.

“It’s great growing up with somebody, having the same dream as them. His dad was my coach and mentor, so when we went to train, we trained together. When we went to personal trainers after school, we trained together. Basketball, football, track, we were always on the same team. (We were) travelling in the offseason to different colleges. We all did that together in a little van, so it’s going to be a great experience. Hopefully, we can win this ring together.”