Ronald aka Ron was born in Troy, New York, right outside of Albany. He lived there until he was 4. At an extremely young age, Ron and his two siblings were forced into foster care due to his father's incarceration and his mother’s personal issues. Eventually he moved to Harlem and found a stable home with his aunt, who would prove to be a source of continued solace. It is here where he developed into a man.
Harlem is well known for its music scene, the great Apollo theater and a rich history of art and intellectualism. But behind all the glamour, it’s one of the most dangerous places in the country for a young black man. Gang violence, corrupt cops and an underfunded school system all contribute to making Harlem a tough area to grow up. If you can’t rap and or play a sport, it’s difficult to find a way off the streets. Ron’s gift was his natural athletic ability. Through basketball, he found a perfect outlet not only to stay out of trouble, but also to find himself. “If it wasn’t for basketball I don’t know where I would be.” He made his first basketball team in 10th grade, where he played JV.
From there he had a huge summer, made the varsity squad and earned a starting position. Despite his lack of elite size, he was a dominant player. “I was never the most skilled, but I played hard and used my athleticism as much as possible.” This is where he became friends with Dontae and before long, they would consider each other family. “I remember Dontae, Bally and I would be at my house for Christmas and we would barely have gifts.” Ron’s love for basketball continued to grow and after an outstanding senior year he wanted to continue playing. However, he had no offers to play collegiately. “One thing about me is that I’m going to find a way regardless, I found my prep school and both colleges by emailing the schools myself.” With his efforts and persistence, Ronald eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina to do a post grad year at Standard of Excellence Academy. It was in Charlotte where his game blossomed and he received interest from schools from d1, d2 and Junior Colleges. Ronald would be forced to take the junior college route because he wasn’t a qualifier due to his SAT scores.
He would commit to play at McCook Community College in Nebraska where he would remain for 3 years due to serious knee injuries in back to back seasons. This took not only a physical toll on Ron, but also a hefty psychological one. “Doctors told me twice that they were unsure how much longer I could continue playing after having grade 4 arthritis in my knees, that’s why I thank God and walk with a chip on my shoulder”. During those two years, Ron found himself. Going through a period of depression due to his lack of clarity over whether or not he would be able to play basketball again, Ron had to look in the mirror and decide what was most important to him.
After considering quitting school and returning home, he decided to attack his rehab and give basketball another shot. “Basketball is what saved me and without basketball, I didn’t know what I would do. But quite honestly, the injuries put things in perspective for me. Putting a ball in a hoop wasn’t going last forever and at that time I started seriously considering what I wanted to do when my career was over.” Finally getting to play his last year, he received a full ride scholarship to Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama. Ron’s first year at Spring Hill was tough. He went through a lot of emotion, struggling in class, basketball, and the passing of his father on Valentine’s day. “Losing my dad gave me more motivation to reach my full potential because I know how proud he was of me with all of my accomplishments. I was one of the few to graduate high school and get my associates, and the first to leave for school and go to college.”
This is the story of Mixed Emotions and how it developed from a story of hardships, determination, and persistence into the emotional story you see inscribed on apparel. Ron aspires to inspire those who ride the waves of these mixed emotions daily by sharing his journey and grabbing the hearts of those along the way.