Eagle Academy’s Ramell Redd following a tough road to success
Ramell Redd grew up without a father in some of Brooklyn’s toughest housing projects, but he found a school that has allowed him to thrive — and he’s on the path to a Division-I college after a tremendous year on the football field.
He credits all of his success to his mother and to Eagle Academy for Young Men II, a school he never would have attended had it been left up to him.
“I still remember his first day,” the Eagle Academy’s football coach Kyron Jones said. “He was crying all day. His mother was, like, ‘Tough. This is what you need.’ She sent him back the next day, and he was crying again, saying, ‘I don’t want to go to the school, I hate the school.’ Now he loves this place.”
Eagle Academy, currently in its seventh year of existence, is an all-boys school that includes grades six through 12. It’s known for being strict, forcing students to wear jacket and ties as part of the uniform and requiring athletes to carry conduct cards every day. The school will celebrate its first graduating class this June and expects at least 85-90 percent of its students to graduate — a stat that isn’t all that common among Bedford-Stuyvesant schools.
Redd is a sophomore that grew up in the Farragut Houses in Brooklyn where he lives with his mother Nina Marcano, his brother and grandmother. Redd always played football but didn’t always take it seriously, and he admits that he used to be a couch potato.
Since he’s started at Eagle Academy, Redd’s life has changed. His football coaches, most of whom have grown up in similarly tough conditions, have motivated him into becoming a top player. He led all high school athletes in New York City when he ran for 2,183 yards and scored 28 touchdowns this year. He also helped his team to win a Public School Athletic League championship during Eagle Academy’s first year with a varsity program.
“Ramell is a monster,” said Jones. “He’s the kind of player that you would love to have on your team. He accepts the leadership role without being the rah-rah-rah, get-in-your-face kind of leader. He’s more of give-me-the-ball-I’m-going-to-score kind of leader.”
Eagle Academy plays at the PSAL’s lowest level, and a lot of star athletes in Redd’s position would be looking to transfer into a school with a more prominent athletic program to get the attention of college coaches. However, Redd has no desire to look for greener pastures. Besides, his phenomenal season has already caught the attention of Wagner College, which he recently visited, and other schools will likely pursue Redd as he becomes a junior.
While Eagle Academy has no football field, no weight room, and lacks other basic training facilities that many schools take for granted, Redd knows there is much more to a school than such amenities.
“It was my experiences at Eagle that made me who I am,” said Redd. “The staff members here really care about you and want you to succeed, so they’re watching out for you. I didn’t like being at such a strict school at first, but now I see they’re strict for a reason. I have a great support system that I wouldn’t necessarily have at another school.”
Despite Redd’s success on the football field, he also has a strong understanding that there is more to life than sports. He wants to find a Division-I school where he can continue his athletic career, but he is also thinking about potential majors and is already thinking about jobs after college.
“I feel like football is maybe a 50-50 chance,” said Redd. “I always have a plan B. When I go to college, I want to take sports medicine because football is not guaranteed. There is always something better than you. That’s why I feel like once I go to college I’m going to stick to football, but I have to think about what’s best for me and what’s best academically because football might not go the way I want it to.”
Throughout all of this, Redd has stayed humble. While walking around the hallways of school, he’s always seen with a smile on his face and is more likely to crack a joke with classmates than to put them down. Above all, he gives credit to his mother for making him stay at Eagle Academy and stick with football.
“My mother has been great to me,” Redd said. “I wanted to leave the school; she wouldn’t let me. I wanted to quit football one year; she wouldn’t let me. I can’t go against her because she has done everything for me. I wouldn’t be here without her.”
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