More awards, cash for Yale-bound Akintunde Ahmad
Published 5:23 pm, Monday, May 19, 2014
The Oakland Raiders will fling open the doors to their Alameda headquarters gift shop Tuesday and give Oakland Technical High School senior Akintunde Ahmad the shopping spree of a lifetime.
want to load him up with Raider products so when he steps onto the Yale
campus next fall, he can do it in Raider style," said Mike Taylor, a team spokesman.
was once a family joke has become reality. Mubarak Ahmad, Akintunde's
father, would say, "I want to grow up to be just like 'Tunde."
Now, a lot of people want to be like 'Tunde. Or connect with him. Or take a selfie with him. Anything.
has been a whirlwind since the story of the young man from East Oakland
with the 5.0 grade-point average and a fistful of admission offers from
Ivy League schools hit the Internet.
In the last month, Ahmad has been featured on everything from YouTube videos to national talk shows.
I wrote about the academic wunderkind in an April 4 column, he has
trended like a member of the Kardashian clan, and has flown from one
talk show interview to the next.
He appeared on most of the Bay
Area's local news stations and did an interview on MSNBC along with his
mother, Zarina, an elementary school principal at Oakland's Piedmont Avenue Elementary School.
late April, when he appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show", Ahmad was
comfortable in front of the cameras. When he was introduced, he halted
for a quick two-step move before sitting down.
He surprised everyone by announcing on "Ellen" that he would attend Yale University
this fall. He then received a surprise of his own: a game-show-size
check for $15,000 from Shutterfly, an online photo, card and album
company in Redwood City.
The gift came as his parents were
scrambling to find a way to come up with nearly $20,000 for the coming
school year, their portion of the first-year tuition costs.
The check was the "biggest" cash award, but not the only honor Ahmad has received.
all of this has happened a month before Ahmad even turned 18 years old
has not swelled the young man's head, a characteristic his parents
attribute to their son's "old soul." He's a young man with the wisdom of
an old man. He took it all in stride.
"I'm kind of surprised by
the amount of support (I've received) and how the story took off," Ahmad
said in a phone interview on Friday. "I never expected it would be all
of this, but I'm definitely embracing it, and I'm glad it happened
because it's helped a lot."
Ahmad has also received a $1,500 scholarship from Bay Area restaurant chain Burma Superstar in partnership with the Golden State Warriors.
On May 30, he is scheduled to toss out the first pitch at the A's game
against the Los Angeles Angels. He has raised $2,500 on his own through a
crowdfunding website, GoFundMe. By graduation day, June 11, he should
have almost enough to pay for his first year of college.
airfare and accommodations for his college visits back East to Columbia,
Brown and Yale universities were paid for by a donor who has also
pledged to help support Ahmad throughout his college career. And
Taylor and the Raiders need not worry about Ahmad's clothing options.
He may be one of Yale's most fashionable freshmen next year.
addition to the Raiders, four clothing lines, Pink Dolphin, Creative
Class, Benny Gold and Oakland's signature shop, Oaklandish, have given
him shirts, hats and gear with an Oakland sign, symbol or name.
Even as his outstanding academic achievements are recognized, Ahmad continues to rack up the trophies.
Ahmad, the Oakland Tech Bulldogs starting center fielder for the last two years, was named Student Athlete of the Year in the Oakland region by the California Interscholastic Federation,
the governing body for high school sports. The honor included a $2,000
cash award. He is also a candidate for Student Athlete of the Year in
the Oakland Athletic League.
He was recognized by the Oakland City Council, which passed a resolution to salute his achievements, and last week attended a mixer held by the Charles Houston Bar Association, an organization made up of African American lawyers, judges and law students from across Northern California.
"I met John Burris," Ahmad said.
I've met him too. He's a nice guy and a wildly successful Oakland defense attorney.
I gotta say: No offense, John, but I remain more impressed with 'Tunde.