Antrone Cliff Jr.’s best tool is his speed.
“People from the mainland will say, running from the police will get you fast. But it wasn’t that. It was always I had to like, my cousins used to take my bike and I used to hate ’em, and I used to like, hawk ’em down from street to street, full pace, and I caught up to ’em and grab ’em. ‘Hey, my bike!'” Cliff said. “I think that’s what kind of made me fast, running from people, getting chased by my older cousins, and running from my mom. Yeah, I think that’s what made me ready to run.”
The Kaimuki senior defensive back grew up in Decatur, Ill.
Back then, he was getting in trouble.
“I thought it was good to hang out with bad people so I can be cool, but it wasn’t,” he said. “I almost went to jail hanging around with them. That’s what kind of scared me to come up here and I said, ‘Forget that, man.'”
So he decided to turn his life upside down and move to Hawaii. He hopped in a plane for the first time ever to live with his grandma.
“I’m gonna just go up there and try something new, and she told me she’d accept me, so I said, ‘Oh, I’m coming!'” Cliff said, “and I came. I came out here to better myself and hope I do good out here.”
Back on the mainland, he used live that fast life.
It’s quite the contrast to where he lives now.
“The vibe here is just calm, period. It’s just calm, quiet, and mellow. You come here with all that mainland type of stuff, people gonna look at you weird, and they just gonna look at you like wow, he’s hyper. They’re not used to it,” Cliff said.
New to the islands and starting high school, Cliff picked up football for the first time as a freshman.
“I already knew when I was coming here that I was going to play football. That was going to be my high school dream, and I said okay, I’m gonna just run with it, and I ran with it.”
His wheels are being put to better use sprinting across the gridiron.
“I’m just that fun guy, you know. I always bring the energy up,” Cliff said. “So when I come on the field, everyone’s energy be low, but I make sure that mine’s is high so we all can have a fun day on the practice field.”
Through the first four games of the season, the Bulldogs have yet to lose to an in-state team, and from four years ago to now, Cliff has changed dramatically.
“My everyday life is football. I’m always at the school. I’m not even at home the majority of the time. The people I hang out with is the football boys. I really don’t hang out with nobody else,” Cliff said.
It took 4,200 miles for Cliff to find where he belongs.
“This is home now. This is home.”