Numerous kids face the trials and tribulations, but few will ever experience triumph. Many try to make it and few do, but 6-foot-2 St. Francis standout guard Rasheem Dunn is on his way, playing and living for a better tomorrow in the face of an uneasy past.
For as long as he could remember, Dunn’s parents were never really together.
“My mom was always supportive, always in my life, always working and stuff to make sure we had,” he reflected. “She’s been here through everything, every game that I could remember, she raised me and my little brothers herself. She’s a superwoman.
“My dad, he was always in and out of jail,” he continued. “So I didn’t really get to spend time with him. Not to say that my dad wasn’t there, but he was always in jail. I wouldn’t say it was rough because I had somewhere to sleep.”
Dunn recalled the days of being jammed up in his late grandmother’s house with a plethora of family members, but optimistically pointing out that at least everyone was fed, despite being crowded and in tight quarters.
“We’d stay at her house,” he remembered. “Growing up in the black community, everybody’s grandma’s house is the place everybody was welcomed to. We were eating, it wasn’t like a ‘struggle’ struggle.”
Dunn says that in spite of the past, he talks to his father in the present day. The two even have a relationship, it just “isn’t what it should be.”
“I know every child is supposed to have father figure in life, but sometimes things don’t go as they planned and people take a different path,” he said. “There were times I didn’t talk to my dad for seven months, but I made it through this time. I turn 20 years old in July, I’m a man myself.”
Through all of the transgressions, Dunn maintained his focus and excelled on the basketball court, where he found his love at 10 years old.
Before then, Dunn was a normal Brooklyn boy chilling on his block, hanging out with friends, and playing the drums as a hobby. He fell into basketball after being brought to a team camp ran by New Heights, a storied AAU basketball program out of New York City.
Dunn later played at Eagle Academy in middle school, where he met Shamorie Ponds, a lifelong best friend and current St. John’s Red Storm standout. The two won titles in middle school and later in high school at the junior varsity level as true freshmen
And at the varsity level, both city and state championships, while at Thomas Jefferson High School. The 2016 banner breakthrough was the first ever state title for the Orange Wave.
Today, he’s a rising star in the Northeast Conference, where his St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers (9-13, 6-4 NEC) are tied for third 10 games through the 18-game league schedule, despite being picked tenth, dead last, in the preseason NEC Coaches Poll.
After leading a 4-27, 2-16 NEC last season as a true freshman, the Thomas Jefferson High School alum has been an integral part of this year’s Terrier team, where his averages have jumped from 13.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists to 15.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists.
The goals are set, the desire to achieve them is undeniable, and the adversity is familiar. In fact, he’s seen worse. He’s not “Dunn” yet.
“Negativity is the root of all evil,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I wasn’t in the streets as well, but I had something I wanted to do with a passion. I had to excuse myself from situations and stay focused on the main goal that’s going to feed my family, and hopefully I’ll be a star, a superstar.”