From Humble Beginnings to USA E-National Team, Ramo Savoring the Ride
The youngest of three children who grew up in Brooklyn, New York, Ramo “Ramo” Radoncic began his long journey to becoming a member of the inaugural USA Basketball E-National Team playing Power Rangers on his cousin’s Sega Dreamcast.
The power forward who is known for his “famous spin-o-rooney” move spent time working as a doorman near Central Park in Manhattan before being selected No. 5 in the 2018 NBA 2K League Draft by the Pistons GT. He quickly made his mark on the league and was a finalist for league MVP in 2018 and named to the All-NBA 2K League first team in 2019.
None of that would have been likely without his cousin’s Sega games.
When he was about 3 or 4, Ramo’s parents weren’t able to buy a game system for him and his siblings, but his cousin had a system, and Ramo visited his cousin’s house as often as possible.
“I’d always be super, super excited to go over to their house and play video games,” said the 27-year-old. “They had damn near every game and every console. That’s when I really started playing video games. From there, I went to Nintendo, Super Mario Brothers to Nintendo 64, to Goldeneye.”
Ramo also had a passion for basketball. He had a small hoop in his room when he was 4 or 5, fronted by a rug that was used as the 3-point line. He, his brother and sister loved to play together when they were at home.
And Ramo, who often shot from behind the 3-point rug line, boasts that he earned bragging rights over his two siblings.
“I always hit behind the rug,” stated Ramo. “I was always hitting shots over my brother and sister. That’s when I started loving basketball.”
For about 10 years afterwards, Ramo said he played basketball and video games nearly every single day.
“From a young age, I loved basketball and I loved video games,” said Ramo, who originally played 2K solely in his spare time. “I just put the two of them together. It’s part of my life now.”
As he slowed down his participation in ‘in real life’ basketball, Ramo played 2K more and more often, and quickly jumped up through the ranks of 2K players.
“I was winning a lot, competing in a lot of tournaments,” he said. “So, when the 2K League got announced I felt like I had to try out. I was one of the best in the combine, got drafted fifth overall in the 2K League’s inaugural draft and now, three seasons later, here we are: USA Basketball.”
From Power Rangers to playing on an international stage, it’s been quite the journey for Ramo, who is hoping to help the USA Basketball E-National Team to the North and Central American Conference championship at the 2020 FIBA Esports Open II, which runs online Dec. 19-20.
He was among 30 players who participated in the USA Basketball E-National Team trials and was selected to the team on Nov. 9, along with ALittleLady87 (Wendi Fleming/BallHerAlert); Crush (Rafel Davis/Kings Guard Gaming); JBM (John Mascone/Wizards District Gaming); Kenny Got Work (Kenneth Hailey/Raptors Uprising GC); OriginalMalik (Malik Hobson/Knicks Gaming); and Ria (Spencer Wyman/Jazz Gaming).
"We knew what was expected of us when we heard the final cut of the USA E-National Team roster," he said of his team. "We have seven elite players who are known to be the best at their positions on the game. Being one of the older guys on the team, my job is to be a leader and be vocal and energetic at all times. Come next weekend, you will see why the USA is the most superior team in history of FIBA esports. We are coming for that gold and nobody can stop us but us."
The squad has been practicing about five days a week since the team was named and is becoming a cohesive unit. Some of the players from trials have participated in training so that the players can scrimmage. The USA squad also has scrimmaged Argentina, Brazil, Great Britain and Spain, and won each time, which bodes well for the team in the upcoming competition.
“It’s a blessing,” said Ramo, who considers three-time Olympian LeBron James as his GOAT. “USA Basketball, I would never think they would take a step into the virtual side, the esports side, but it just goes to show you how much esports have grown, and I’m blessed to be a part of it. To all the parents out there who thought this wasn’t a reality, that video games will never take you this far, it just goes to show you that it can.”