Ronald Burgess – Founder, RBJ Foundation

Ronald A. Burgess Jr. is a former professional athlete, inspiring motivational speaker, and founder of the RBJ Foundation.

Growing up in Miami’s Opa-locka and Deerfield Beach, Florida, Ronald understands the need for resources aimed at not only strengthening communities, but also empowering the youth within these communities. Having substantial understanding of the impact addiction, mental health, and trauma can have on youth, Ronald speaks at DYS (Department of Youth Services), churches, and schools to help minimize the stigma of addiction and mental health.

How do you define success?
My definition of success is positively-changing and impacting, not only your life, but also the lives of others. Success is bigger than the individual. That’s why I emphasize on the “positively-changing and impacting the lives of others.” When I think of success, the one word that sticks out the most is “prevail.” Success is measured by growth. Success is measured by a decrease in the stigma of addiction and mental health. Success is bigger than the individual.

What is the key to success?
1) First, and most important, is consistency. Consistency is the key to anything in life, especially when we talk about success.
2) Chasing failure. Understanding that everything you may feel you can’t do is indeed everything you can do.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
The greatest lesson I learned is to always remain humble. Remaining humble and understanding our circumstances doesn’t define us, nor does our past. Also, to be more mindful of the things I have versus the things I don’t have. That’s pure gratitude.

What are some quotes that you live by?
“Faith without works is dead.”
“One community, one goal.”
“We didn’t come this far, to come this far.” – William Hollis

What are some of your favorite books?
Uncommon – Tony Dungy
The Bible
The Man in the Mirror – Patrick Morley

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as a professional athlete.
When I visited an elementary/middle school and chose to discuss the importance of “saying no to drugs.” Reason this is considered one of my toughest days is being, at the time, I was working with teens/adolescents who struggled with substance abuse and mental health disorders. I’ve lost many young teen/adolescent clients to addiction. Therefore, there are a lot of emotions that come into play when talking to elementary/middle schools about the importance of not engaging in any of these addictive behaviors. It’s always difficult to discuss this topic, because of all the funerals I’ve attended as a result of teen/adolescent addiction.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
My faith and knowledge of my purpose in life. I understand I have a job to do and that’s to strengthen our communities and empower our youth. Also, understanding that God is bigger than my adversity and circumstances.

What advice would you give to young athlete?
The advice I would give is to always remain humble and consistent with everything you do. Take something from the game, because this can’t last forever. All sports come with life lessons that we can take and implement in our daily lives. Incorporate God in all you do.



This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.

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