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Best of the Bronx: Nigerian prince turned Navy SEAL raised in the BX publishes bookPosted: Updated:
From African royalty to the streets of the Bronx to a Navy SEAL, Remi Adeleke has quite the story to tell, which he's doing in a new book hitting the shelves.
It's been 20 years since Adeleke has been back to the Bronx.
Adeleke was born in western Africa, a true Nigerian prince, until the government there stripped his father of everything.
"Our family went from rich, having everything, living the life, travelling the world, eating the finest foods, to poor, to having absolutely nothing,” says Adeleke.
When his father died, his mother moved 5-year old Adeleke and his brother to the Bronx, where she became a teacher.
"She could have easily given up, she could have easily quit, but every day she just worked hard and hard and hard to provide for us,” he says. "She is the reason I am who I am."
Despite her best efforts, Adeleke's teenage years at Dewitt Clinton High School were, as he puts it, wild.
"I started out stealing from my mom, then I progressed to stealing from local bodega stores and then that progressed to selling drugs and that progressed to running scams,” says Adeleke.
Until one day, trouble caught up to him.
"I get involved in a deal with a drug dealer that goes bad, and he came knocking on my mom's apartment door and he threatened my life. After that I was like that's it I’m done with this life. Six months later that's when I made the decision to join the Navy,” says Adeleke.
He was recruited by a fellow Bronx resident Tianna Reyes, who he says did all she could to get him off the streets and into the academy.
"She knew that no one else would give me a chance, she knew that her being from The Bronx, she had a duty to help another Bronxite out,” says Adeleke.
So he enlisted, and shortly after became a Navy SEAL. He believes he’s the first African-American from the Bronx to do so.
His next career move came from an unexpected phone call.
"Michael Bay's looking for an African-American former Navy Seal to play a small role in the film,” says Adeleke.
He ended up in the film "Transformers: The Last Knight."
"Every day I was on set I had this, man I'm this kid from the Bronx, like how did I end up here,” says Adeleke.
That story is the subject of his newly released book, Transformed.
"My hope is people pick up this book, see my life, see my failures, see how I defied the odds and look in the mirror and say if Remi did it I can do it too,” says Adeleke.
Adeleke says that walking into the Lit Bar in Mott Haven and seeing his book right on the shelves was a special moment for him.
"To be from the Bronx and to have my book on the bookshelves in The Bronx, it's humbling man, it's like a full circle moment,” says Adeleke. "I lived this unexpected life, like it was unexpected for me to be a SEAL, it was unexpected for me to be an actor, it was unexpected for me to write a book, so it's just one of those things like, what's going to happen next."
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