Writer, actor, and former Navy Seal, Remi Adeleke, shares his motivational life story in his new book, “Transformed: A Navy SEAL’s Unlikely Journey from the Throne of Africa, to the Streets of the Bronx, to Defying All Odds.” Born in West Africa, Remi Adeleke’s story is one of determination and survival and believing in one’s own potential to overcome the challenges of life. From wealth to the streets to appearing in films and television, Remi Adeleke proves that a failure is only a failure if you do not learn from it.
AB: Growing up, your family was considered royalty. Can you give some insight into your childhood?
Remi Adeleke: I was born into a wealthy family. My father was a well-known Engineer and philanthropist. He engineered one of the first man-made islands in the world. We lived in luxury. We had nannies, drivers, and servants. We traveled all over the world. My mom had nice designer clothes. My siblings and I attended a private school on Lago Island. My dad would have these parties where politicians from the United States would come to the compound. We did not want for anything. It was a very fruitful lifestyle.
AB: The unfortunate passing of your father caused a whirlwind of changes for you and your family. Can you discuss the impact of losing your father?
Remi Adeleke: Shortly after my father died, the Nigerian government stripped everything away from my family. We went from rich to poor. My mother was a New Yorker, so she brought us back to the Bronx. Growing up in the Bronx during the ’80s without having a father in my life had a negative effect on me. I was trying to find a father figure in the streets. That led me down a dark path. I was in the streets hustling, stealing, and doing what I could do to make money. I was trying to receive that affirmation that a father gives a son.
AB: So, you are in the streets hustling, but you ended up joining the Navy and eventually becoming a Navy Seal. What led to that decision?
Remi Adeleke: Film always inspired me. My mom would save up pennies to take my brother and me to the movies. The 1995 movie Bad Boys starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence was the first time I saw two African-Americans who looked like me and played heroes. That was the first time I was like, ‘wow.’ I can be a hero. I did not have to hustle or do any of the other things that I was doing. When the movie “The Rock” came out, it was the first time I was exposed to Navy Seals. I remember thinking, if I could turn my life around that is what I would do. That led me to join the Navy. It was either death, jail, or the military. It was a blessing that I met a recruiter from the Bronx. She understood me. At the time, I had warrants out for my arrest. The recruiter took me to court, and she advocated on my behalf. She got me through the recruiting process and helped change the trajectory of my life.
AB: You decided to leave the military during a successful career. What influenced that decision?
Remi Adeleke: I had two sons near the end of my career. With my dad dying when I was young, I did not want my kids to grow up without a dad and make the same mistakes I made. I wanted to be in my kids’ life as much as possible.
AB: Today, you celebrate the release of your book, “Transformed: A Navy SEAL’s Unlikely Journey from the Throne of Africa, to the Streets of the Bronx, to Defying All Odds. “What can readers expect from your new book?
Remi Adeleke: Authenticity. Readers are going to get an authentic real story. I do not water down my past. I am transparent about the mistakes I made, the people I hurt, and the failures I have had. But it is all for a purpose. I want people to see that you can make mistakes, but you still have potential. You have to pick yourself up. It is never over. If you are knocked down ten times, pick yourself up eleven times. I have tried to live by the saying, a failure is only a failure if you do not learn from it, but if you learn from your failure, it becomes a lesson. With that said, I wrote the book because I wanted readers to learn from my failures and use them to defy the odds in their own lives. I have already walked an extremely hard path. This book provides the proverbial shortcut.
“Transformed: A Navy SEAL’s Unlikely Journey from the Throne of Africa, to the Streets of the Bronx, to Defying All Odds” is available at all major retail bookstores and online. For more information on Remi Adeleke and his new book, click here.
Ali Bouldin is a freelance writer within the Black and Hip-Hop culture. With featured articles in multiple publications. Follow his Instagram @Ali.Bouldin.