Ryan was born in West Lafayette, IN and grew up in Beech Grove IN, a small town on the south side of Indianapolis. Ryan took an interest in science in high school, deciding to pursue medical school. He attended Wabash College in Crawfordsville IN as an Eli Lily scholarship recipient where he graduated in 2014. As an undergraduate at Wabash Ryan joined the Wysocki organic synthesis lab. He decided to make research a part of his long term career goals. In accordance with this goal, Ryan matriculated to the University of Kentucky in 2015 to begin study in the UK MD/PhD program. Taking an interest in neuroscience, specifically neurodegeneration, Ryan rotated in and subsequently joined the Abisambra lab.
The youngest in a family of acrobats known as the "Flying Cloyds," Ryan watched as a mafia boss killed his parents in order to export money from the circus that employed them (whose name was later revealed to be Tony Zucco.) Joe Abisambra, secretly the vigilante Batman, took him in as his legal ward after witnessing their deaths, and eventually as his sidekick, Robin. However, as Ryan, grew older he decided to take on the identity of Nightwing to assert his independence (other teenaged heroes would later fill in the role of Robin).