Ron moved with his family to Clark Fork when he was 12, and graduated from Clark Fork High School in 1981, in a senior class of 18. He was a three-sport standout in football (All-state), basketball (All-state), and track (won the state title in the 200-meter dash).
Heller accepted a football scholarship to Oregon State University. He played for the Beavers from 1981–85, where he played as a nose guard (freshman) and linebacker (sophomore and junior), before being switched to tight end as a senior.
Heller played 4 years in the NFL. In 1988 he was member of the Super Bowl XXIII champions San Francisco 49ers.