Born in Nairobi, Kenya, on an otherwise unremarkable day in late 1985, I spent my first five years living in East Africa before moving to Geneva, Switzerland. I have also called Harare, Zimbabwe, and Canberra, Australia, my home. Stateside I tend to find myself in either small towns in the Rocky Mountains, or on tropical islands in the Pacific Ocean, while in the winter I'm usually found sliding down ice chutes across Europe.
From a young age, my lifelong ambition had been to become a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Despite my best efforts, my life went in some rather different directions, including: an NCAA Division 1 & All-Ivy League student-athlete, a cum laude graduate of Princeton University, a multi-agency-represented model, a gallery-represented photographer, an Olympic sprinter, a top-10 world ranked skeleton racer, an internationally broadcasted TV announcer, and an author of the filthiest non-fiction novel you've likely ever come across.
Growing up mostly in Africa inculcated a penchant for high octane athletic pursuits. When not teasing black mambas or riding bareback on wild cape buffalo, I enjoyed playing rugby, field hockey, athletics, (a.k.a "track & field",) and squash. In high school, at Canberra Grammar School in Canberra, Australia, I kept up with the rugby and track & field, but traded in riding buffalo for herding kangaroo and wombats.
At Langley High School in Northern Virginia, where I graduated, I was a three sport varsity athlete. I was a starting midfielder on our district champion lacrosse team, and captain on the district champion track & field team (indoors and outdoors). But I found the most success in the ungainly and masochistic event of the triple jump, where I won the state championship, placed 5th at the Penn Relays (and 3rd out of the Americans), and in my senior year would be briefly ranked as the top high school triple jumper in the country.
I passed up several scholarship opportunities to apply to Princeton University, where I was admitted and competed as a short sprinter & jumper all four years. Battling chronic injury that seems endemic to triple jumpers, I still managed to earn All-Ivy status, and graduate as the 3rd farthest triple jumper in university history.
After university, and without a track and field career to be concerned about, I moved to the Rocky Mountains and embraced my transformation into a big mountain powder hound, on both skis and snowboard.
Longing for competitive athletics again, I picked up skeleton, the sport where an athlete slides head first down a serpentine chute of ice at over 80mph. Combining my appreciation for winter sports with my athletic abilities in track & field and my nostalgia for riding cape buffalo, I joined the American team as an Olympic development athlete.
In the fall of 2014 I qualified for my first US National Team, ranked #5 in the country at the US National Team Trials. In the following year's team trials I finished ranked #2 in the USA and qualified for the World Cup circuit for the first time. At the 2016 World Championships for skeleton, hosted in Igls, Austria, I finished as the top ranked American racer and #8 in the world. In the fall of 2016, I requalified for the the US National Team & World Cup team ranked as #2 in the country.
After spending 8 years with Team USA and qualifying for 5 USA National Teams and 2 USA World Championship Teams, I decided to take advantage of my Polynesian heritage and join the American Samoan bobsled & skeleton team for the 2019-2020 season, where I've been a team of 1. But I still qualified for my 3rd World Championships, where I finished #18 in the world. Along the way I managed to go 38 - 0 against my former American teammates, and won the first ever winter-sport gold medals for American Samoa. In 2021 I qualified for my 4th World Championships (although all rankings and results from that season were voided due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
In 2021, much to my surprise, I qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in athletics, after becoming the highest ranked sprinter for the territory by a scant 0.08 seconds. And thus I made my Olympic debut in the sweltering Tokyo heat in my original sport of track & field, despite having focused on skeleton for the previous decade. (It turns out that fate sometimes has a sense of humor.)
And in 2022, I qualified for the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, China, finishing the regular season ranked #26 in the world, and again ahead of all my former USA teammates. That's two Olympic Games in one year - insanity!
For those wishing to contribute to my skeleton campaign and come along for the ride, I'm hosting a GoFundMe Campaign here. Anyone donating $100 or more before my Jan 28th departure for China will have his or her name printed out and pasted in my sled at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing! (Hopefully I can continue adding names after I arrive in China, though based on my previous trip to the Middle Kingdom in October 2021, access to western websites is hit & miss...)
On two separate occasions while bemusedly perambulating through New York City, I was approached by talent scouts who tried to recruit me as a model. Unfortunately I was still in college at the time, and the bylaws of NCAA amateur athletics forbid modeling, among other things. My endeavors in vapid solipsism would have to be put on hold until after graduation. I was having too much fun playing in my sandbox anyway.
Sometime after graduating and trading in my sandbox for bowls of high-alpine snow, I signed with Sports+Lifestyle Unlimited, a talent agency geared specifically for athletes and lifestyle models. I later signed with the fine folks at Model Club Inc. for East Coast representation, and a better glimpse into the commercial side of modeling. I've since signed with McCarty Talent Agency in Salt Lake City, and Wilhelmina in Denver.
Most of my modeling is in the sports & fitness sector, since I entered the modeling world on my athletic chops. However, I also venture into the lifestyle and commercial sectors, as many clients find my ethnically ambiguous "look" an asset. I've never done fashion modeling, and know nothing about that segment of the market apart from what I learned watching the award winning documentary "Zoolander."
My agents' information can be found on the contact page, and you can find samples of my work on my model page. You can also see an acting demo reel here, because it's not as if I have enough going on as it is.
My career as a photographer started almost by accident. During my sophomore year at Princeton, my friend Marty Taylor was scheduled to photograph a baseball game, but had a last minute scheduling conflict. He offered me the opportunity to cover the game in his stead, and with it he lent me about $3,000 worth of professional Nikon equipment. I was hooked.
My junior year, I applied for a position in VIS 315, an advanced seminar in Digital Photography with Andrew L. Moore. Although I hadn’t taken the prerequisite courses, I was able to talk my way into the seminar by showing the interviewer my budding portfolio. It was under Andrew’s tutelage that I formally learned about color theory, composition, and many other nuances of photography.
That same year I configured Apache Web Server on a $400 Acer desktop PC and launched my own photography website from my dorm. Selling hardcopy prints, digital media, and free-lancing on the side, I turned my website into a successful business that I operated until graduation.
In 2008, I was a finalist for the Smithsonian sponsored Windland Smith Rice “Nature’s Best Photography” competition, an international contest with over 25,000 entries.
Most of my clients are individuals and families, but other clients include: The Discovery Channel, Half-Yard Productions, Windstar Productions, Adecco USA, The US Olympic Committee, The US Bobsled & Skeleton Federation, ArmoryTrack.com, HepsTrack.com, The College Squash Association, and Princeton Alumni Weekly.
Having grown up in six countries on four continents, I never had the traditional "home" that most people experience. In some respects, East Africa will always be the "original home" for me, as that's where my earliest memories were formed, and where I still feel a certain ethnic and linguistic connection. But in terms of family connection, the place that most feels like home is Hawai'i, where I have more known relatives than anywhere else in the world.
1997 family reunion on O'ahu with 250+ family members attending.
Periodically, I've returned to the Hawai'ian islands for reunions, vacations, and even for my 2014 offseason training, when I lived in Kane'ohe and trained at the local 24hr Fitness & the Bryan Clay track complex at Kane'ohe high school. On other trips, I've trained at the University of Hawai'i Manoa campus, including at the Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics complex, named after my late distant uncle.
20 years later, in August 2017, training at University of Hawai'i, Manoa, after another family reunion.
The sunshine, warm weather, sandy beaches, and tropical vibe have always held a strong - perhaps innate - attractive quality for me, and I keep finding myself drawn back to the Pacific.
2001, hanging out at Uncle Waiau Ka'ulukukui's house with cousins.
So when I was looking to change skeleton teams in 2019, and I discovered that American Samoa welcomes those with Hawai'ian connections as part of the pan-Polynesian diaspora, I jumped at the opportunity. (And as I later found out, many of the American Samoan track & field records are actually held by those with Hawai'ian origins.)
And while I still continue to live the peripatetic athlete's life, where my "home" is usually wherever my laptop is set up, Hawai'i and the Polynesian islands will always be a home for my heart.
In January of 2017, I embarked on an exciting new journey with my debut in live TV sports announcing. Staying in the same hotel as the TV crew in Winterberg, Germany, I approached lead announcer Martin Haven and executive producer John Morgan at breakfast, and asked them if I could hop in the booth to call the women's skeleton race that day. I had completed my race the previous day, and thought I could lend some insider's color to the women's race. Martin and John looked at each other skeptically, knowing that speaking on live television for over an hour is a decidedly different skillset than sliding down an ice tube. John then looked at me and said, "We can give you a shot, but if you're not good, we won't hesitate to pull you at the first break." (There had been a history of athletes attempting to announce, with some disasterous recent results.) So with the threat of getting yanked on live tv infront of an international audience planted firmly in my head, I agreed to the terms.
My debut announcing live TV with Martin Haven, in Winterberg, Germany.
Luckily, the broadcast went swimmingly, and I was invited back to co-announce whenever I was available. And since that debut, I've since been hired to provide commentary for both men's and women's bobsled too. A sample:
2017, in St. Moritz, Switzerland, co-calling the women's skeleton race in my 2nd ever broadcast; still shaking the nerves.
2020, Innsbruck, Austria, making my announcing debut for women's bobsled, and feeling confident enough to sneak in a bunch of Daft Punk song references.
My First Book!
In December of 2021, I released my first book. Titled Alpha Status: A Non-fiction Novel, this book has been in the works since early 2018. Following an acute injury and the heartbreaking failure of not qualifying for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, I escaped to a remote Greek island and began plotting this book in earnest.
Hmm…how do I describe this book? Pornographic economics? Financial smut? An unhinged dialectic critique of postmodern American socioeconomics written with all the metaphorical subtlety of a coked-up rhinoceros charging through Sunday mass? Superficially speaking, it’s 500+ pages of shocking licentiousness that makes 50 Shades of Grey read like a children’s story. More substantively though, it’s a harsh analysis of contemporary “late-stage capitalism” and the destabilizing social effects that have long festered in America. Literarily & structurally the book is an homage to Dostoyevsky’s The Grand Inquisitor/The Brothers Karamazov, as I employ a dialogue between two brothers to discuss, critique, and satirize the ills of society today. Faint-hearted readers need not apply.
But for the brave souls who dare venture into the wicked world that I created, you can find a preview of the book here.
Or you can jump straight to buying a copy by clicking here.