Ogden, who wants to be a perennial Pro Bowl player who ends up in the Hall of Fame, learned something about setting goals through his middle-class upbringing. His father, Shirrel, is an investment banker who handles his son's voluminous finances. His mother, Cassandra, is the executive director of the Council ,, on Legal Education Opportunity, a nonprofit group that helps minority students to attend law school.
Genetics also have worked in Ogden's favor. Shirrel played on the offensive line for three years (1970-72) at Howard University, and stands 6-6, 360. Cassandra is 5-10. And Ogden's younger brother, Marcus, a 16-year-old senior at St. John's in Washington, is being recruited by several Atlantic Coast Conference schools to play offensive line. Marcus is 6-5, 290.
"I kind of realized Jonathan had a special talent early on, and it became obvious that he was going to be a very good player in high school," Shirrel said. "He was shy as a kid, very comfortable being by himself. He was also very self-motivated and meticulous about planning. I never had to tell him to do his homework."
Ogden's toughest adjustment probably came after the sixth grade, when his parents decided to remove him from the D.C. public school system and place him in St. Albans. Suddenly, Ogden went from a student body that was about 10 percent white to an exclusive academic institution that was about 10 percent black. Suddenly, he was rubbing elbows with new friends named Rockefeller and Marriott.
"I didn't have many white friends when I was in elementary school, and I didn't want to leave my black friends behind. There were maybe six or seven blacks out of a class of 80 in my first year [in St. Albans]," Ogden said. "It was an adjustment, but I started enjoying myself that first year, especially because we had some good sports.
"I've kept in touch with most of my close friends from when I was younger, but I've always been able to get along with everybody -- black, white, Mexican, whatever. I'll talk to anybody."
Ogden remains remarkably unfazed by his new fortune. His lifestyle is anything but flashy. A Range Rover he purchased in college sits in his driveway. He could have easily afforded a mansion, but he proudly shows off his $295,000 purchase that includes an acre of land and a backyard swimming pool.
Although he enjoys an occasional trip to Hawaii, loves to visit the West Coast as often as possible and is always angling for his next Vegas foray ("In college, I would go to the $2 tables; now I go the $25 tables"), Ogden generally surrenders money at the rate he gives up sacks.
"His uncle came down last summer from Buffalo to visit. He likes to drink beer, so Jonathan goes out and finds the cheapest beer, $4.99-a-case stuff," Shirrel said. "We shamed him into taking it back and buying something better. You hear these nightmare stories about young, rich athletes who run out of money. I can't envision that happening with Jonathan."
"I don't even think of myself as an extremely wealthy man," Ogden said. "I guess I take for granted that if I need money, it's always there. It was a rush signing that contract, but I really was more excited about playing than about getting the money."
And Ogden doesn't see motivation as a problem down the road.
"I can't make it to the Pro Bowl or the Hall of Fame if I slack off," he said. "I don't think I've ever gotten complacent. I know you're only as good as your last game. Or your last play."