Amari Radden's biography is a rags to academic riches tale. He's gone from troublemaking failure to college-bound role model in one year, doing it with a 180-degree change in attitude.
"I'm tired of getting kicked out of schools. I'm tired of getting in trouble. I'm tired of losing," Amari said, explaining his evolution. "How do I make myself become a better person? I just want to be a good person and I wanted to be smart for once, you know."
Amari's transformation began shortly before his mother and he moved to South Florida from Detroit. He had been kicked out of several schools back home for fighting and he was already enrolled in an alternative school for troubled kids.
"It was extremely hard growing up without a father," Amari said.
The light bulb in Amari's head turned on when he met his uncle, an orthopedic surgeon, for the first time. Amari said his uncle encouraged him to apply himself in school and use his intelligence to succeed.
"I always knew I was smart but I didn't think I could use that ability in my life," Amari said.
A change of scenery was just what the doctor ordered. Amari showed up at Everglades High School in Miramar in October of last school year, his junior year. Counselors looked at his abysmal transcript and recommended he go to an alternative school. His GPA was 0.6, which is almost rock bottom. However, Amari talked his way into Everglades, persuading the assistant principal to give him a chance.
"I took that chance and I ran with it," Amari said, vowing to work insanely hard to catch up with his classmates and graduate on time.
"I wasn't sure it was even possible, he was that far behind," said Assistant Principal Daniel Most. "He didn't take the easy way out, he was asking me for science classes and honors classes."
By taking a full schedule at school plus night school classes and online courses, Amari essentially crammed two years of work into one year and raised his GPA to where it is now, 3.5, astounding everyone around him.
"He's a one-percenter, he's gone ahead and he's taken that opportunity and it is incredible, because a lot of students, they give up on themselves," Most said.
At the end of last school year, Amari's junior year, he had accomplished his first goal: raising his GPA up to 3.0, the minimum to take dual enrollment classes. He's already been accepted to FAU, and his new goal is to ace every undergraduate class to prepare him for medical school. Amari wants to be an orthopedic surgeon, like his uncle.
"He's always been like that one friend who wants to motivate you to be better and to do better," said Jared Hardrick, one of Amari's friends.
All of his friends are not just impressed by Amari's turnaround, they're inspired by it.
"Just because you come from somewhere, doesn't mean you have to be where you come from. You can always do better than that," said classmate Jordan Bedford, describing the lesson he learned from Amari's struggles.
Amari leaned on his new friends for support.
"Calling me at 12 a.m., telling me, 'Bro, I'm stressed out,' and the next day knocking out three tests in a row. There's nothing stopping this kid," said Ricardo Flores, one of Amari's classmates.
Classmate and football star Keenan Forbes agrees, saying, "Yeah, he beat the odds, big time, on that one, 15 classes at one time, whew!"
Amari said in the rare moments when he's not doing school work, he reflects on how far he's come, and how fast he's achieved academic excellence.
"It's ambition, perseverance, chasing after what you want to be, and you'll see that door opening up," Amari explained. "I know now that I've got a big future ahead of me."
His friend is right, there's no stopping this kid.
SWAG on 6 (Students Working At Greatness) is a feature on NBC 6 highlighting students who rise against all odds and continue to succeed.