Behind Mr. Ritchie's scuffle with investors is the story of a son living under the shadow of his stepfather, Joseph Ritchie, a legendary Chicago options trader. The younger Mr. Ritchie launched his hedge fund in 1998 with the help of his stepfather, who provided seed money. The relationship between the two ruptured in the summer of 2006. People close to the elder Mr. Ritchie say he wants his stepson to apologize to investors and to return their money. The younger Mr. Ritchie says he and his stepfather have a "personality conflict." He says he is more willing to take on risks, while his father is more conservative. "I have a tendency to come on strong when I know I'm right," he says. Mr. Ritchie's "stick with it" approach pervades other aspects of his life. He lives and works in Wheaton, Ill., the Chicago suburb where he grew up. Like his mother, stepfather and siblings, he attended Wheaton College, an evangelical Christian institution. He still works out with the Wheaton football team. Beginning in fifth grade, Mr. Ritchie was home-schooled and spent many days hanging out at the Chicago Board of Trade with his stepfather. He later worked as a floor trader for his stepfather's options-trading company, Chicago Research & Trading Group. Early on, Mr. Ritchie wanted to be a pro football player. He tried out for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1989 and the Chicago Bears in 1990, but was cut from both before the seasons began.

— hedge fund manager family connections, as well as sport  

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