Balial Lewis Sloan El feels like he is sitting on top of the world. He just earned his Master’s Degree in Wellness and Lifestyle Management from Rowan University and his burgeoning business: Boss Branded Fitness & Motivation is off to a promising start.
As Balial asserts on his website, “We focus on turning your weaknesses into strengths and your strengths into opportunities.” According to Balial, he had two of the best teachers – his YCS foster/adoptive parents Miriam and Andre Sloan El.
With their direction, Balial’s life quickly turned around. His dad, an assistant football coach at Roman Catholic High, saw his athletic potential and encouraged Balial to take the freshman entrance test. He passed. One week after he was placed with the Sloan Els home, he began summer football camp. It was the first time, he had ever played an organized sport, and he loved it.
July 31st, 2002 – the day Balial moved into the Sloan El’s home – is etched into his heart as the day his life changed forever. In 2006, at the age of 16, Balial was adopted along with his foster brother James. Their joy was short lived, when their dad passed away after a brief illness one year later.
“I can still hear my dad’s voice in my head. Sometimes when I find myself in a difficult situation, I imagine what he’d say to me. Even though he is gone, he is still my inspiration and my support.”
Balial says the relationship he had with his dad was special. The hospital was very close to his high school, and Balial would often visit his dad after school. He’d bring tapes of the football practices and they’d talk about the game. He recalls that his dad seemed more open to him than other family members. “This time with my dad was my honor,” says Balial.
Balial and his brother James were more committed to their mom after his passing, and Balial made his dad’s dream come true when he got a full scholarship for football at Monmouth State University. After graduating with honors, he worked as a counselor at an inner city school while pursuing his masters.
Although he no longer lives home, Balial sends his mom a text messages every morning to wish her a good day. He always keeps her updated on what he is doing. “My mom is my heartbeat…She is the only person that I really want to make proud.”
This is a far cry from the angry 12 year old, who had completely stopped going to school by the sixth grade and found his companions and illicit activities on the street. Back then, he felt the state ripped him away from his grandmother and his family. He didn’t want to like the Sloan Els and resisted their kindnesses. However, once he let down his guard he says he felt like he was in an actual home – the kind he dreamed of as a child.”
Today, the 28 year-old has nothing but gratitude for his family. “The Sloan Els saw my potential and [now] I want to do whatever I need to do to put a smile on my mom’s face.”
Life is just beginning for Balial. He plans at some point to return to school to earn a doctorate in physical therapy, and possibly expand his business to work with injured athletes.
For now, he is focused on helping his clients achieve their goals. We wish him all the best.