The Fighter: Randy Reed II overcomes personal struggles off the basketball court


Isaac Holt

If you saw him, you would never know what he has been through, you would never know the things he has seen and the battles he has fought. All you would notice is his smile.

St. Louis, Missouri native and University of Nebraska at Omaha’s power forward, Randy Reed II, has been a fighter all of his life.

When Reed was two-years-old his birth dad left his mother, forcing him to grow up with an absent father.

“I remember I would wait for my father to pick me up the whole day Saturday,” Reed said, “He would never show up.”

Growing up, Reed admitted he acted like he didn’t care about his father never being around, but in reality it was taking a heavy toll on him on the inside.

Reed said that during his middle school to early high school years, not seeing his father negatively affected his attitude.

“I was always fighting and cursing at people, I was the complete opposite of who I am today,” he said.

Photo Courtesy of UNO Athletics
Photo Courtesy of UNO Athletics

Reed was forced to go to therapy because of his fighting, bad grades and problems at school.

However, the turnaround came for Reed when he was 16-years-old. “My mother was told by the doctor that she had cancer and had only 60 days to live,” he said.

During that same time, the fatherly figure that was living with Reed’s mother, and the family’s only source of income, left his mother and family.

“That is when I knew I had to grow up for my mother,” Reed said, “I had to fix the way things were in my life.”

This is the moment Reed became passionate about basketball and his future.

Reed began to turn his life around. He started boosting his grades, quit his troublemaking and instead of fighting for himself, started to fight for his mother.

“I got really good grades my junior and senior year,” Reed said. “I graduated with a 2.8 GPA, so you can imagine how bad it was before.”

Instead of cancer, the doctors found Reed’s mother to have lupus, a chronic disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks its own tissue.

Amidst the disease, Reed’s mother is still living today.

After a junior and senior year of studying and practicing hard, Reed graduated from high school and began his collegiate career at Quincy University, a Division II school in Illinois.

Reed redshirted his freshman year and unfortunately received little playing time his second year.

Reed would say, however, that some of his greatest friends and mentors were found during those first two years of playing very little.

“I took sitting on the bench not as, ‘you are not good enough’, but you need to work harder,” Reed said.

But, unexpectedly, tragedy hit his family again.

Reed’s sister suddenly became extremely sick and was unable to work, forcing him to leave Quincy to help support and care for her.

“She was very sick, couldn’t work, and was getting kicked out of her apartment,” Reed said. “It was a bad situation, she didn’t have money and needed help with her kids.”

Reed’s sister was also diagnosed with lupus, like her mother, and preeclampsia: a condition that can cause a person’s blood pressure to rise and fall, impair a kidney and cause blood clotting.

“She was bleeding from her stomach, couldn’t move for weeks, unconscious for days and ended up having a seizure in the hospital,” Reed said.

Moving home, he became a fighter once again, for his sister.

He helped her move into a new home, watched her kids and began playing basketball for an unlikely person.

“Once I moved back, I got a call from my birth father, the one I really never talked to,” Reed explained. “He told me he got the basketball coaching job for St. Louis Community College, and asked me to come and play for him.”

Once he accepted the offer, Reed began to create a new and fresh relationship with his father that he had been longing to have.

Looking back, Reed believes all this difficulty was the best thing that has happened to him. Randy’s redshirt-sophomore year was one to remember. Reed was 6th in the nation in scoring, averaging 22 points a game. Then, as an all-American, Reed lead his team to nationals.

UNO recruited Reed during his last game of the season.

“I played horribly that game,” Reed said. “But they gave me a scholarship anyway.”
If there is one thing that basketball has taught Reed it’s to never give up and always pursue your dreams.

“As long as you put in the work and keep praying to God, your dream can come true,” Reed said.

Reed continues to be a fighter today. This season he has fought and overcome an apparent season ending knee injury, and a concussion.

He is the Mavericks go-to player off the bench and is thriving in that role.

During his time at UNO, he has earned a spot on the NABC Honors Court, named to the Summit League academic Honor Roll, and was added to the UNO Dean’s list.

If you see Randy Reed II, you would probably see him smiling. Only because he has fought through adversity, broken down impossibility and has risen above every obstacle.

Randy has built his life on these words, “I may not be able to change the world, but let me help someone who can.”


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