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Romello Styles Overcomes Adversity to Pursue Broadcasting Career

By Harry Minium

That Romello Styles has persevered for so long pursuing his dream of graduating from college and becoming a TV sportscaster is something of a miracle. Most people would have been crushed by the tragedy life has dealt him.

He was given up for adoption as an infant and taken in by a loving family in New York. After his adopted mom, Ruby Styles, died from diabetes when he was 6, he moved to Virginia Beach. Then he lost an adopted brother, Anthony Cheresnowsky, a Landstown Middle School football star, when he was in the seventh grade.

Shortly after he turned 17, his father, Larry Styles, died from heart disease. He was still a junior at Green Run High.

He was briefly taken in by his grandmother, then went to live with friends, moving from house to house, while he finished at Green Run. After briefly attending Old Dominion University, he joined the U.S. Army.

In December, his best friend, Clarence Hilliard, died in a car wreck. Styles was a pall bearer. He's the third close friend Styles has lost since 2014.

In spite of all that adversity, Styles will walk across the podium at the Ted Constant Center on May 10 to shake President John R. Broderick's hand and receive his degree in communication.

He's trying to follow the same path of other ODU graduates into sportscasting, including ESPN's Jay Harris, WAVY's Brian Parsons and WTKR's Mitch Brown.

He said the memories of his parents and so many others who have died is why he has persevered.

"You have to find a reason to keep going," Styles said. "My reason is my parents and all my friends I've seen die. They can't go any more, so I keep going for them."

Styles has worked hard outside of the classroom to prepare himself. Even before he joined the Army, he was freelancing for local sports blogs while attending ODU.

ODU student Madison Pearman hired him at WODU three years ago. They've been at the mic ever since, double-teaming broadcasts of Monarch sports events.

Styles goes by Mello Styles on the air and recently finished an internship at WAVY.

He traveled with the ODU basketball team to the Conference USA and NCAA tournaments, reporting for WODU, while maintaining a full academic load of 18 hours.

He joined the Army with the intention of coming back to ODU and using his military benefits to pay his way. Those benefits have allowed him to make ends meet without having to work.

"It allowed me to spend my time chasing my dream," he said.

Styles was an athlete who figured out early that he didn't have the talent to play college sports. "I love sports," he said. "I knew I had to stay connected to it in some way."

Brown, a 2015 graduate, saw Styles not only at ODU games, but at high school games all over the region. "He was everywhere," Brown said.

Brown introduced himself in 2016 and quickly saw much of himself in Styles.

Brown fought his way up the ladder to get a full-time TV gig. He worked 10 months as a cameraman at WTKR before he got the chance to go on-air.

Brown has given Styles tips on what to say, how to say it and even editing a video Styles posted on Twitter with highlights that was essentially a job application. It's been viewed more than 7,000 times, but so far hasn't resulted in a job offer.

"I talk to Mitch about everything," he said. "He's doing what I want to do, which is graduate from ODU and get that dream job. I couldn't ask for a better mentor."

"He's talented, but really raw," said Brown, acknowledging that he and most prospective broadcasters were equally raw coming out of college.

"When you're first starting out, you don't have a voice, a style. He's going through what I went through and wherever he ends up, he'll get experience and learn and get better."

Styles is active on social media, with 11,000 posts on Instagram and nearly 46,000 on Twitter. You can see dozens of clips of Styles on air, but he also posts frequently about his parents and friends he's lost.

His past is also told in ink. There's an "11" tattooed on his arm, the number his brother wore at Landstown. "In Loving Memory of Mom and Dad" is also on his arm, in memory of his adoptive parents, along with a hand holding a cross.

"Blood makes you related but loyalty makes you family," is inked on his chest - he got the tattoo right before leaving the Army.

"I did that because I've had so many people take me in like family that I have no relation to," he said. "Every tattoo is related to someone close to me."

He said he doesn't dwell much on the past.

"I don't have someone to lean on," he said. "Most graduates go home, and I don't have a home to go to. For me, I worry about my future."

If he doesn't get a job by early summer, he'll head to Texas to live with his biological brother, who's making the Army a career.

Styles was told last week that the National Association of Black Journalists has given him a grant to cover its national convention in Miami in August, where he will work with professional journalists to do daily newscasts.

That assumes he doesn't get a job sooner.

"I worried about getting a job when I graduated," Brown said. "But his strength, the knack he has for overcoming adversity, makes me more comfortable about his future. I keep telling him, things will align for him."

And perhaps one day we'll see Styles with Jay Harris on SportsCenter.

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