In his last year of high school, Richards landed a scholarship which sent him to England to be educated in the sixth form of the English public school Haileybury. After Haileybury, Richards, a scholar-athlete, went to Princeton University from where he graduated in 1985 with a BA in Economics and played varsity football.  At that stage, he had no plans to be a model. His focus was on football and school. But a shoulder injury lead him to New York to see a specialist. On that trip, he was told his football playing days were over but he was spotted by a casting director. Eventually, his trips to New York for auditions lead to him a meeting with the Ford Model Agency. Thus began his career as a male model. This career spanned over fifteen years and encompassed over 200 major ads and hundreds of commercials.