By Alysha Conner | Metro Atlanta Black
From Nigerian royalty to a Bronx, NY troubled teenager, United States Navy SEAL, actor, writer, and philanthropist; Remi Adeleke has definitely made a name for himself over the years. Adeleke’s most recent accomplishment is the publishing of his first-ever novel on May 14th titled, “Transformed: A Navy SEAL’s Unlikely Journey from the Throne of Africa, to the Streets of the Bronx, to Defying All Odds.”
In his autobiographical novel, Adeleke unveils his unique success story as a young African-American male who has defied the odds against him. Losing his father at an early age resulted in young Adeleke falling victim to the street life, in order to fill the void of a broken home. He eventually hit rock bottom and was inadvertently compelled to strengthen his prayer and faith life, to ultimately turn his life around.
“For most African-American kids growing up in the inner cities who don’t fathers, we look for fathers. I was looking for a father and I found one in the street life and hip-hop culture. I was able to look at these guys who looked just like me, came from where I came, and grew up in single-parent homes like I did. I was able to say, ‘okay these are men, this what they’re saying, therefore that’s the pattern I must follow,’” expressed Adeleke.
Explaining his novel creation process, Adeleke said,“It’s been really therapeutic. It has also taught me a lot about people and myself. When we live life, we live in a fast pace. But, when you’re writing a book, you really get to experience life in slow motion. So as I was writing my book I was able to really reflect on people, and one of the things I realized was how many people came into my life that helped give me that boost or opened a door for me. Especially women. There are about 10 to 20 women who came into my life at pivotal moments, and did things for me that got me to the next step.”
Adeleke, which in Nigerian means “the crown is above,” was born and raised into Nigerian royalty through his father’s reign as chief of the Yoruba tribe. Unfortunately, when Adeleke was just five-years-old, the Nigerian government stripped Adeleke’s father of his status and finances. Adeleke’s father sadly passed away a few days after.
Reminiscing about his upbringing in Nigeria as the son of a successful chief, engineer, and businessman, Adeleke recalled, “It was kind of that life that you dream of. We had nannies, servants, we lived on a compound, traveled the world, we had the finest food and clothes, hosted parties for patriots and politicians. That was the first five years of my life.”
The death of Adeleke’s father led to his family’s permanent relocation to the Bronx. Adeleke’s mother was originally from New York and decided to move back to the place she knew best. After losing all of their income, the Adeleke family was forced to succumb to a hard knock lifestyle.
As Adeleke, his mother, and older brother transitioned from their lavish Nigerian lifestyle to their new life of struggle in the Bronx, Adeleke depicted, “My mom did a really great job of masking the reality of what was going on. Not to keep us from the truth, but to protect us. So because she kept it together, we kept it together, and we didn’t think anything bad was happening. She created this movie set and around the movie set things looked perfect, but if you walked off set that’s where reality set in and where the chaos was.”
“It wasn’t until I was about eight-years-old that I finally realized what had happened. I would see my mom go to the rent office and have to ask for extra time to pay the rent so we could keep a roof over our head. There were times when my mom didn’t have enough food to feed herself. She had just enough food to feed my brother and I.”
Adeleke resorted to selling drugs and theft so he could help his mother and help provide for his family. After a life-threatening encounter with a local drug dealer, Adeleke experienced a wake-up call that inspired him to begin his life transformation. It was just six months later that he ultimately decided to join the United States Navy. Though Adeleke was not a fan of the law enforcement growing up, he made the decision to join the Navy as a last resort survival mechanism. He had no aspirations of attending college at the time but was in desperate need of an alternative environment that would keep him off the streets.
When Adeleke went to the recruitment office, he met a Petty Officer named Tiana Reyes who was a Bronx native. Reyes not only assisted Adeleke with joining the Navy, but she also helped him get his criminal record expunged. Adeleke was able to excel in becoming Navy SEAL of the year during his first year on the SEAL team. He also gained a sense of pride as one of the few Blacks to join the Navy SEAL. According to yourblackworld.net, less than 2 percent of African-Americans are represented in the Navy SEALs.
Transitioning from the streets to the armed forces, Adeleke expressed, “I hated the military. I hated the government. I hated the police. I associated anybody in a uniform as the police. I grew up in New York City so I saw a lot of injustices carried out against African-Americans and minorities in the Bronx. When I realized I had nothing else left and nothing else going for me, the transition became a survival decision.”
“When I was in the Navy and I wanted to act out and rebel because I didn’t like authority and the public system, I would always go back to Tiana. That is what helped me pretty much stay on track. I would remember the sacrifice that Tiana made for me, and there was a reason that she made that sacrifice for me. She knew that no other recruiter would give a Black kid from the Bronx the chance that she gave me. So if I rebelled, acted up, or got kicked out of the Navy then she would have been proven wrong. I would have proven the government right that I was indeed not eligible to join the Navy, and this recruiter made a bad decision. So that became my motivation to stay on the right track.”
In terms of his acting career, Adeleke has primarily been cast for appearances due to his SEAL experience. While working towards his master’s degree in strategic leadership at the University of Charleston, Adeleke received a phone call asking him to appear in an acting role for the 2017 Michael Bay film Transformers: The Last Knight. Bay was so impressed with Adeleke inTransformersthat he recently cast him in his upcoming Netflix film, 6 Underground. Adeleke has also been writing his own films, with the hopes of committing to a production company soon. His first self-produced film will be about a fatherless African-American boy from the Bronx, with a crack addict mother, yet becomes a successful C.I.A. agent. Several production companies are also pursuing Adeleke to turn “Transformed: A Navy SEAL’s Unlikely Journey from the Throne of Africa, to the Streets of the Bronx, to Defying All Odds” into a movie.
Despite his busy schedule, Adeleke always finds the time to pay it forward through his non-profit organization called City Hope. City Hope is a 501(c)(3) located in San Diego, California, that assists with providing the tools and resources in the areas of domestic violence, human trafficking, homeless resource connection, financial literacy, and more. Aside from his many business endeavors, Adeleke also serves as a loving husband to his wife of eight years and proud father of two boys, who reside in San Diego as well.
As a part of his current tour to promote his new book, Adeleke partipcated as a panelist on the His Story Panel this past weekend in Atlanta for Black Writers Weekend. A hardcover edition of “Transformed: A Navy SEAL’s Unlikely Journey from the Throne of Africa, to the Streets of the Bronx, to Defying All Odds” can be purchased via Amazon or Barnes and Nobles website for $26.99.
that people have ofwho can have these professions as professors, and who’s expected to come back to do work,” Dr. Parker added.
Considering majority of the students being predominantly Latino and Latina in the Wedbush Cares program, Dr. Parker declared, “There is tension between the Black andLatino communities. Like there are assumptions in the Latino communities about who Black folks are. It’s really powerful that us as Black professors being is this space, areable to have the students listen to us. We’ve created a space for them to really express their feelings and concerns. We provide a space for them to talk about things that aredifficult for them to talk about because of cultural norms.”
“There’s a strong narrative, especially in minority communities, that if you justwork hard then you will succeed. That’s very different in more privileged communities where people’s connections matter. So we use this program as a way to reveal the powerof how your social capital can lead to financial capital, and how you leverage networks,”
As Wedbush Cares wraps up its pilot program in June, Dr. Parker and Dr. Armstrong hope to continue the program in the summer. They also have intentions onexpanding Wedbush Cares College Prep to multiple locations throughout California, andother states such as Illinois and Colorado. Furthermore, in the hopes of expansion, Dr.Parker and Dr. Armstrong are actively seeking additional sponsorships and partnerships.