Ridley, the son of Nathaniel and Ernestine Ridley, grew up in Birmingham and was an active member of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church. In the 1950s, he was one of the first African American children involved in 1950s efforts to integrate Birmingham City Schools (not achieved until September 1963).
Ridley went on to serve in the U. S. Army during the Vietnam War and then joined the New York Police Department and worked as a detective until his retirement. He then returned to Birmingham, where he died in 2011. He is buried at the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo.
- "Nathaniel 'Butch' Ridley Jr." obituary (March 22, 2011) Birmingham News