As part of our Giving Back series and partnership with International Medical Corps, Pro Player Insider Melissa Mahler caught up with Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Ronnie Cameron. He talked about being the son of immigrant parents, the creation of BonfireImpact.com, football and shared a few fun facts.
I believe we should all have a hand in building our global community. Making all people self-sustaining and aiding them in helping others, within their own community, will make a more balanced and beautiful world. We are all in this thing together so why turn our backs on anyone. ~ Ronnie Cameron
Enjoy, be inspired, lead and Give Back.
PPI: What was it like for you Mother growing up in Haiti and your Father growing up in Trinidad & Tobago?
RC: My Mother grew up with her family in a decent area of Haiti compared to most of the more impoverished parts of that country. Many of her family members dealt with poverty and life there was nothing like life here in America. Nothing was easy and you couldn’t just go to the neighborhood store to get what you needed. She had to deal without having very many resources and had to make things happen for her family, manually, and usually on her own.
My Father grew up on a farm in Trinidad & Tobago, where after school days he would help farm along with many of his cousins. Trinidad is a tropical setting that is very inviting. He also fielded several different types of jobs from the time he was young.
PPI: What challenges did your parents face growing up in their respective countries?
RC: My mother’s family dealt with hard times but not extreme poverty like most families in Haiti. She was able to attend school, worked in her father’s store and was fortunate enough to have the means to leave Haiti when she was 16 to look for a better life.
My father’s family also dealt with difficult times and worked tirelessly to make ends meet. They relied on their closeness of their very tight-knit family to get them through the hard times.
PPI: How were they able to leave? They met in here in the United States can you share more of the story?
RC: My mother was sent to America by her father because, he knew, there was more for her in America, at that time, than there was in Haiti. My father managed to save up enough money to get to the U.S. and received a visa. Both of my parents worked at a factory on Long Island, New York and that’s where they met. Somehow my father convinced my mom to go on a date with him and that was the start of the beautiful family we have now.
PPI: How did growing up as a child of immigrant parents shape you as a person?
RC: Looking back I’m very thankful for being raised by immigrant parents. They were strict but instilled a tireless work ethic and a high level of respect for everyone. My parents always taught me the importance of having good manners and being a good person. Both those things were of utmost importance. It doesn’t matter what you do in life if you aren’t a good person behind it. We always had work to do growing up. Sometimes it was working on our home, going to work with our parents or weekend projects. As a child I hated it but now I appreciate all those things. They helped teach me the value of hard work and shaped who I am today. I am an extremely hard working person, who treats people right and who gives back to people in need.
PPI: What is your belief on giving back to the “global” community?
RC: I believe we should all have a hand in building our global community. I have always believed when you give you get in return and usually in a way you might not expect. Also when we help others do better it helps everyone progress because no one is a strain at that point. Making all people self-sustaining and aiding them to help others in their own community will make a more balanced and beautiful world. We are all in this thing together so why turn our backs on anyone. We need to continue to help everyone when it comes to health and economy so we each of us have a chance to reach our full potential.
PPI: How did you pick the name for your new website, BonfireImpact, and what do you hope to accomplish?
Bonfire means beacon, an eradicator of waste or is part of a celebration which is what the website stands for and Impact is the effect that I want to have on the world. My goal is to raise awareness in the younger population about human rights and create a social awareness for what is going on because there’s really no centralized place for that right now.
PPI: What is one of the biggest challenges you faced in reaching your dream of play in the NFL?
RC: Facing the business side of this game was an adjustment. It was tough to see how decisions were made often to the point it didn’t make sense to us as players. However, I have learned you can only control what you can control so why stress over the things we can’t.
PPI: A few fun things if you have time: a) favorite football memory, b) favorite food, c) favorite musician or song d) favorite super hero and e) last book you read or movie you saw.
a. Taking ODU to the playoffs for the first time in school history
b. Italian Food
c. Kanye West
d. Beast from X-Men
e. What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
Ronnie originally signed with the Bears as an undrafted free agent and then joined the Browns after he was waived by the Bears.He was a rockstar defensive tackle and student at Old Dominion in Norfolk, Va. where he earned All-America honors and his undergraduate degree and an MBA in Information Technology in four-and-a-half years.
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