Samuel Barnes has enjoyed success in the entertainment industry under several names. As Tone, one half of the Trackmasters production duo (along with Jean “Poke” Olivier) he produced platinum albums for Michael Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z and 50 Cent. As “Red Hot Lover Tone” the rapper he earned hip-hop quotables in The Source magazine and recorded songs with Chubb Rock and Grand Puba. But his greatest personal achievement might be running a youth football program.
Since its inception in 2002 Barne’s youth football club has become a feeder system for H.S talent and is regarded as one of the best programs in the city. His Staten Island Hurricanes have clinched five national championships in the American Youth Football league and sent many players on to college and to play ball overseas.
“I never intended on doing more than this 8-year-old group,” Barnes told The New York Daily News. “That was the original intention. but when we put up flyers, 60 kids showed up. I had no idea we were filling a void.”
Personal tragedy almost ended this dream before it started. In 2003 Barne’s wife and children, just 7 and 9 at the time, were robbed at gunpoint in their Staten Island home. Though most of the $100,000 in jewelry was returned his wife wanted to move. The family relocated to New Jersey but that left the fledgling football program in jeopardy.
“Family members and friends thought the program would fold, ” said Barnes. “But I said, ‘No, this is the reason I’m involved in a program like this. The more kids I influence now, the less that will do nonsense like what was done to my family.”