“I want people to be inspired to turn their pain into power.”
At 17 years old, RuQuan “Ru” Brown is focused and his mission is clear. The high school senior is making an impact in the classroom, on the field and within his community — using his pain to fuel every effort. In the classroom he has a 3.9 grade point average at the number one academic public school in the nation’s capital. He leads the student body as SGA president and he earned an impressive 1320 on his SATs. On the field he is a track and football champion, running 40-yards in just 4.3 seconds as a star wide receiver and cornerback. And within his community he is an entrepreneur and activist, operating a clothing company by the name of Love1, that’s tackling gun violence head on.
Ru also holds 24 college acceptances thus far, seven from Ivy leagues, and 16 full scholarships. Some of the schools include Howard, Georgetown, William & Mary, Cornell, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth, Army, and Temple University to name a few. He is Black boy joy, resilience and pride in action.
In September 2017, Ru’s teammate and friends was murdered in Washington, DC. One year later, his step-father was murdered in October 2018 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Through both devastating tragedies, Ru managed to maintain his studies and involvement in sports by finding a way he could make a small difference. He launched he clothing line with a cause earlier this year.
“My company is called Love1. I started it to honor the lives of my teammate and step dad, who were murdered a year apart. I wanted to beat gun violence to the punch so that our families don’t have to continuously fall victim to tragic losses,” Ru told Because of Them We Can.
Love1 donates 20% of its proceeds to an organization in New Jersey called One Gun Gone. OGG buys guns from New Jersey communities and turns them into art.
“We’re eliminating a small fragment of the problem in order to reduce the amount of our loved ones being taken from us,” he said.
With every product sold and and each college offer he receives, Ru honors his fallen friend and his step-dad.
“My step dad took me to my first ever football practice. He would have me do 100 pushups a night starting at age 7. I never understood the importance of this until middle school when my body was physically mature compared to my male peers. He taught me the importance of working when nobody is watching. That is how you come out on top; doing the hard work in the dark,” he told BOTWC.
When it comes to his grades and the leadership he exhibits in the classroom, Ru credits his entire village, including his mother, his late step-father and his biological father. He has always been a straight “A” student, but it was the exposure he gained through his biological father’s journey that put him on the path to college.
“After my mom and step dad split, my mom sent me to DC to live with my father. He got a late start and moved to DC to attend Howard to become a Dental Hygienist. Howard has a middle school on campus and that exposure opened my eyes to college,” he said.
As the second eldest of six siblings, Ru takes the example he is setting for his family serious.
“I think about my family when I want to quit. I am a leader in my family and its important that I do the hard work so that I can be the example for my younger siblings. [Then] my parents [won’t] have to work as hard.”
Once he figures out which school he’ll attend, Ru plans to prove that he is more than an athlete. He’s a scholar, an entrepreneur and an activist with plans to pursue a degree in business with a minor in African American studies.
To find out more about RuQuan’s business or to support his efforts to end gun violence, visit love1company.com