From Nigerian royalty to the streets of the Bronx in New York where he later became a US Navy SEAL, Nigerian-American Remi Adeleke has quite an inspiring story to tell, and he’s doing just that in a new book hitting the shelves.
It’s been 20 years since Adeleke returned to the Bronx and he shares his life in a new memoir called “Transformed: A Navy’s SEAL’s Unlikely Journey from the Throne of Africa to the Streets of the Bronx.”
He tells an overwhelming story about his father’s attempts to invest in and modernize his home country, but that all came crashing down when his dad died when Remi was just a small child.
“Our family went from rich, having everything, living the life, traveling the world, eating the finest foods, to poor, to having absolutely nothing,” he said.
When his father died, his mother moved five-year-old Adeleke and his brother to the Bronx, where she became a public school 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,” Adeleke said.
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,” he said.
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, the United States Navy Sea, Air, and Land Teams. Adeleke believes he’s the first African-American from the Bronx to do so.
Since leaving the Navy in 2016, he has appeared in Michael Bay’s movie “Transformers: The Last Knight” and participated in a high-profile Jockey underwear campaign.
“Michael Bay’s looking for an African-American former Navy Seal to play a small role in the film,” said Adeleke.
That was how he ended up in the film.
“Every day I was on set I had this, man I’m this kid from the Bronx, like how did I end up here,” he said.
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 said walking into the Lit Bar in Mott Haven, the first independent and only bookstore in the Bronx 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,” he noted.
“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.”