He would always wonder where he fit on that scale. He was curious, determined, angry and passionate — though often misunderstood. Many relatives shied away from spending extended periods of time with him. But his aunt insisted that Ethan be with her that summer.
While attending church with his aunt, Ethan truly accepted his faith for the first time.
“I had, all of a sudden, a newfound patience," he said. "The next year it was like I was a model student.”
From that point on, Ethan knew he fully believed in God. That belief eventually guided him to become a New Jersey state champion — and to later receive All-America honors in his first year competing for UNC.
So when his aunt's pastor asked if anyone wanted to accept God one Sunday that summer, Ethan decided to do something to gain clarity and show his faith.
He raised his hand.
Ethan always wanted to be the best.
When he was young, he would get angry with teachers and would feel down when he didn't succeed. When he got a B in one of his classes in middle school, he came close to crying.
Those who didn’t know Ethan saw him simply as an angry child because he could be intense. But he had a softer side.
His mother, Gisele, remembers getting a call from Ethan about one of the mouse traps she had placed in the house.
"Mom, I want you to know that I found another trap," Ethan said to her. "I thought we talked about this, but it's OK, because I saved him."
Ethan told her he took the mouse off the glue and cleaned its little feet so it could run away. When the mouse came back, Ethan cleaned out its mouth before letting it outside.
"And the whole time I'm at work, like, having a heart attack," she said. "I couldn't believe what he was telling me."
This passion also shown though in sports.
Even when he started wrestling as a 7-year-old, he wanted to be the best. No one saw this more than Ethan’s lifelong sparring partner — his twin brother, Evan, who wrestles for Shippensburg in Pennsylvania.
Ethan and Evan did almost everything together. They played the same sports; they had the same friends. What separated them was Ethan’s intense dedication to wrestling.
But Ethan could not seem to get past his brother, and that drove him to work even harder. He wanted to be best, and he knew that Evan was going to push him every step of the way.
"They were the perfect partners for (one) another because they had what the other one struggled with," Gisele said. "So they would wrestle all the time together, and I think it always made them better."
Every now and then, tempers would flare — including when Evan hit Ethan with a heavy wooden coffee table that doubled as a chest.
But Ethan didn't dwell on the little things.
He wore whatever clothes he wanted — it didn’t matter if they matched. He even wore ankle weights to high school to work on keeping light feet.
He did whatever was needed to be the best.
Character means everything to Ethan.
When deciding which college to attend, he had a number of schools on his list. But what swayed him was UNC's integrity during the recruiting process.
Unlike the other schools that sought him, North Carolina recruiters only spoke highly of other programs. Instead of putting other universities down, the recruiters tried to convince Ethan why he would fit in at UNC.
North Carolina showed respect — one of the things Ethan valued most.
When he arrived in Chapel Hill, he was shy. He didn’t know many people outside of the team. He found himself wandering different paths in his mind and talking deeply with the people he knew.
He started talking with his roommate about what it means to accept God, and how to live with that acceptance.
"When I got to college, I had faith," Ethan said. "But I didn't have the relationship aspect of it."
Ramos reached for guidance, like he did as a rising seventh grader. He began seeking the right community, eventually landing with The Summit Church in Chapel Hill.
Through his first few years on campus, Ethan dug deeper into his faith. He became an avid member of Athletes In Action, a group for Christian athletes at UNC.
He began to grow close with people in his new community — including Katie Munch, now a senior swimmer at North Carolina.
She had a similar drive for swimming, and the two grew close. Ethan proposed on Oct. 9, and they plan to get married this summer.
"From the very beginning, she was just super real with me," Ethan said.
And finally, he was starting to find his real self.
In his journey to find freedom and fulfillment, Ethan knew he couldn't do it on his own.
"'God, help me have fun.'"
When he was younger, losses were not something he could shrug off. But now, Ethan has started learning to let go.
He can raise his head after a loss. He can be humble in victory. He can go swing-dancing with Katie on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“I used to be such a perfectionist …" Ethan said. "Losing a match felt like death. I’ve been able to give myself a lot more grace with it.”
Defeat will never rest easy with the All-America, but it won’t distract him anymore.
Last season didn’t end the way he wanted it, as he lost two matches in the NCAA Championships after an impressive year. But he didn’t hang his head; he revisited what he’d learned from Leviticus.
“You see that God has a good reason for why he might let something bad happen …" Ethan said. "And when I lost, it was the best I’d ever handled it. I felt like I had been prepared.”
Now, Ethan sees wrestling as more than an outlet. It’s something he loves — a passion. He uses it to feel stronger physically and spiritually.
This Saturday, the Tar Heels face Old Dominion at 8 p.m. in this season's home opener. With a national championship in his sights and a smile on his face, Ethan is ready for anything.
And whether on the mat or not, he knows he’ll never face a challenge alone.
"Christ just doesn't want us to believe him, but he wants a full on relationship with us," he said. "Instead of just going out and wrestling for him, I wrestle with him."