Before Remi Adeleke was a famous actor, he was a Navy SEAL. And before he was a Navy SEAL, he was a drug dealer in the Bronx.
God brought about an incredible transformation in the life of the “Transformers” star.
Remi’s life spiraled downward after his father died in 1987. He had immigrated to New York from Nigeria with his family when he was five. Without a father’s love and guidance, he was left to himself. He liked movies, but the message to black men was mostly negative.
“It said you’re a young African American young male you need to be a hustler, or you need to be a thug or a player,” he says on an “I am Second” video.
Accordingly, he fell into stealing, running scams and dealing drugs as a young person in the Bronx.
But if movies hastened his journey into the “valley of the shadow of death,” movies also brought him through. When he watched “Bad Boys,” he saw black men who were heroes, not thugs. He began to re-imagine his self-image.
Then he watched “The Rock” by Michael Bay about Navy SEALs that lived heroic lives, running, gunning and saving the day.
“I was just blown away at this portrayal of men who were coming out of the water and going into this place to go sacrifice themselves and save others,” he says. “It really resonated and I thought if I was to ever turn my life around, that’s what I would do.”
A drug deal that went bad provided the spark to turn his life around. At age 19, he joined the military with the goal of becoming a Navy SEAL. There was one snag to his freshly forged ambition: he didn’t know how to swim.
He worked his bum off through boot camp, learned to swim, and qualified for SEAL training.
“When I wanted something, I would literally run through walls to get it,” he says.
He had reinvented himself, and he loved Remi 2.0.
“There’s not many jobs where you can get paid to jump out of planes and go after bad guys and protect those who couldn’t protect themselves — essentially be that guy who stood in the face of bullies and said not on my watch.”
During cold weather survival training in Alaska in 2008, he found a measure of solitude that caused him to think about his journey. Read the rest of Remi Adeleke Christian.