The scrutiny and secrets had begun to take a toll on Ricky. "You just go to bed and you say, 'I hate myself.' And you just don't want to say that again," he says. "[I'd think]: 'Look at everything you've done with your family. With your charity. Look at all the love that you've given. How can you hate yourself?'"
To heal, Ricky stepped away from the spotlight. While working with his foundation in India, Ricky learned about the horrors of sex trafficking and founded the People for Children project to help defend exploited children around the world. Ten days after the 2004 tsunami in Thailand, Ricky and his team arrived to assist in the humanitarian efforts and help ensure that human traffickers wouldn't take advantage of the devastation.
While in Thailand, Ricky met a baby who would change his life forever. A baby, nicknamed Baby Wave, was the last unclaimed orphan at a local hospital in Phuket. He was found abandoned in a park with a short note pinned to his blanket. "Please adopt this baby. I cannot afford to take care of him. His parents are missing because of the tsunami disaster at Patong. If you cannot adopt this baby, please take him to the orphanage adoption center."
Ricky writes in Me about meeting Baby Wave. "The first thing I thought was that I wanted to adopt him," he says. "Of course, given that he had become a national hero, that was not even an option."