Nov 4, 2022 - Sports

Former DoorDash driver becomes the Lakers' unlikely hero

Matt Ryan

Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

A year ago, Matt Ryan was working in a cemetery and delivering food for DoorDash. On Wednesday, he played the hero for the 10th-most valuable sports franchise in the world.

Driving the news: Ryan, 25, sent Wednesday's Lakers-Pelicans game to OT with a game-tying three at the buzzer, helping L.A. earn its second straight victory after starting the season 0-5.

  • The three gave him a career-high 11 points, upping his season average to 6.2 points in 14 minutes a game while shooting a team-best 45% from deep for the shooting-deprived Lakers.
  • "My confidence when it comes to shooting is unwavering," Ryan told reporters after the game. "I wouldn't be here if that wasn't the case."
Matt Ryan shot
Ryan's game-tying three at the buzzer. Photo: Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Catch up quick: It's been quite a journey for Ryan, who played for Notre Dame, Vanderbilt and UT Chattanooga from 2015 to 2020. In that final stop, he averaged 15 points on 36% from deep, garnering some NBA attention.

Yes, but: Then COVID happened.

  • The pandemic wiped out 2020's NBA workouts and Summer League, leaving Ryan too far off teams' radars to even get an invite to the G League's 2021 bubble season.
  • He didn't want to give up, but had to make money, so in 2021 he started working landscaping at a cemetery in Yonkers, New York, and delivered food for DoorDash, training when he could.
  • After brief stints with the Cavs (Summer League) and Nuggets (G League), the Celtics signed Ryan this past February. He played just one game, but spent the rest of the season and playoffs with Boston.
  • Finally, the Lakers came calling during training camp, and he made the team. He's played five of seven games so far and could be exactly the type of shooter that has long thrived alongside LeBron James.

The last word: While Ryan's new employer is thrilled to have a sharpshooter, his former employer is missing his 6-foot-7 frame.

  • "His height absolutely came in handy," Ryan's landscaping boss at the cemetery told The Athletic.
  • "There's some branches, some things that are way high up. ... Some of the guys working for me are short — I mean, really short."
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