RaShaan Allen’s speech at the Boys and Girls Club of America competition.
My life is like a card game. I can’t change the cards I was dealt, I can only simply change the way I play them.
I often refer to myself as a superhero because we all have a story that has never been told. I am Superman but kryptonite isn’t my weakness. I’m Aquaman but my strength isn’t water, and I’m Captain America, but my strength isn’t what you’d expect. I have failed more than 500,000 times in my life and that’s why I am who I am today.
Hello, my name is RaShaan Allen and I was born in a town in Alabama where drugs and gangs were the regular. I saw drug deals and gang fights just from my short walk from home to the school bus, but drugs and gangs weren’t the path for me. I took a different path with more tragic outcomes that I would have never imagined.
After leaving my small hometown due to military orders, my mom and I found ourselves in Belle Chase, La., where things took a turn for the worse. I became a product of my environment, getting bad grades, fighting in school and getting in trouble with the law.
But oddly enough, even when I thought I was at my lowest point in life, it turned out it wasn’t my lowest. Hurricane Katrina hit our city head-on leaving us with barely anything, forcing my mom and me to move to an unfamiliar place, but that place that I called so unfamiliar is the place that I call home to this day.
My first few weeks in Fort Knox were the worst, but little did I know God had a plan for me.
On Feb. 18, 2009, Devers Youth Center stepped into my life and changed me. It changed me, a troubling youth that was destined for trouble, to a role model for the next generation. It changed me, a student who had a 1.5 GPA to a student who currently has a 3.5 GPA, who’s president of his senior class, who’s homecoming king at his school, who was elected as the governor of the Kentucky Boys State and who is the captain of almost every team sport he participates in. But most importantly, it changed me—a kid who had nothing—and turned me into a man to where the sky is the limit.
So when you ask me what the club means to me, it means life commitment and acceptance. It’s not just a place where you go to hang out and have fun, it’s a place so much more than that. It’s a place where my dreams became a reality.
So I refer back to this; you can’t change the cards you were dealt, you can only change the way you play them. The obstacle I was dealt at any point in life wasn’t an easy thing to overcome, but I guess that everything happens for a reason. And it’s not my struggles that make me unique, it is the way I overcame and conquered them that sets me apart from everyone else.
Those were the cards I was dealt and that’s the way I decided to play them. If it weren’t for the club, I don’t know where I would be at this point in my life, but I can truly say that great futures really do start here.