Charlotte 13-year-old with sickle cell plays lead role in Broadway's 'Lion King'

"The Lion King" opens Wednesday night at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in uptown, and a local teenager is in the spotlight in the lead role as Simba.

Ramon Reed, 13, stars on Broadway as Simba, but Charlotte is his hometown.

Reed, who has sickle cell disease, requested to join the performance in the Queen City that runs until Sept. 9.

“It's another chance every night to inspire new kids, adults, senior citizens, to do whatever they love,” Reed said.

Reed’s mom Rosalyn Hart travels with him.

In one year, Reed went from acting in local plays to the Big Apple.

“It has been an emotional, but exciting roller coaster,” Rosalyn Hart said.

On the road, Hart is his teacher and his caregiver.

“Making sure that he gets rest, because for him, rest and water are life,” Hart said. “Making sure he remains healthy because a simple cold can take him out for four days, if not longer.”

Reed has a positive attitude about his condition.

“It’s just something that God gave me, so I don't take it for granted, just use it for good and inspire other people,” he said.

“Some days are not your best day, but you gotta keep pushing, keep trying, keep encouraging your child and yourself and you will make it,” Hart said.

Reed said his next goal is to act on TV or film.

“It's like, internally you get through all your trials and errors and all your mountains with a smile,” Reed said. "Hard chest, swollen body, I made that hashtag actually.”

Channel 9 is a sponsor of the fifth-annual Sickle Cell Run/Walk on Sept. 8 in uptown Charlotte.

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