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You are here:Home>>Strategic Research & Analysis>>Ifeanyi Ezeli: Igbo-Nigerian in the American NBA Finals
Saturday, 13 June 2015 04:41

Ifeanyi Ezeli: Igbo-Nigerian in the American NBA Finals

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Festus Ezeli Festus Ezeli

Ifeanyi Festus Ezeli-Ndulue   is a professional basketball player in United States playing for the Golden State Warriors in the National Basketball Association (NBA) 2015 finals against Cleveland Cavaliers.

Festus Ezeli as popularly identified in NBA is an ingenious Nigerian from Anambra State and  was born  October 21, 1989 in Benin City, Edo State.  He was drafted in 2012 by the Golden State Warriors as the 30th pick in the 1st round of NBA American draft.  His early dream was to become a medical doctor but destiny takes its course and he ends up as a professional basket ball player in the most competitive league in the world.

“He concentrated on academics, graduating from high school while still age 14, and aspiring to become a physician. To further his career goals, his parents sent him in 2004 to live with his uncle, a pediatrician in Yuba City, California.”

"My parents told me I was an unusual child. My first name is Ifeanyi, and that means 'nothing is impossible with God', as he reminded Americans of his early life in Nigeria before coming to United States. He came from family of five and he was academically brilliant, a gift he displayed from the time he entered Elementary School in Nigeria.

Life in America
Shortly after Ezeli arrived in Yuba City, his uncle encouraged him to take up what seemed to be the most appropriate sport for a 6’8″ (2.03 m) teenager—basketball. This proved much more difficult for him than academics; although he had played soccer as a child, he had never played any organized sports. He took a year of classes at Jesuit High School in Sacramento, but did not play basketball; different sources report that he was either ineligible to play because he had graduated from high school in Nigeria or cut during tryouts. The start of his organized basketball career, with a low-level AAU team, was especially inauspicious; his first points were scored in his own team’s basket. Recalling that incident, he said, “Everybody was running up the court, and I was just running with them. It’s kind of surreal. Sometimes I think about it now and I’m like, Damn. How did I get here?”

Also in the Katz interview, Ezeli remarked on his struggles to learn the game:

“I didn’t know what I was doing. Imagine someone who is 14 or 15 years old, and you’re teaching them as if they’re a 6-year-old. It was tough. Everyone was getting frustrated with me. I was getting frustrated with it. I tried playing in 2005. I stopped. I tried again in 2006. And when I had my first dunk in a summer league game in Las Vegas in 2006, that’s when I was so excited. It was so exhilarating that I started to like it.”

At age 16, Ezeli joined a second AAU team and also enrolled part-time at Yuba Community College. By not attending full-time, he retained a full four years of college eligibility and was still able to practice with the team; he also served as the team’s videographer. Although still learning the most basic of basketball skills, he made his high-level competitive debut on the AAU circuit in the summer of 2007. By then, he had reached 6’11” (2.11 m), and averaged 10 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game, earning an invitation to the Reebok All-American Camp in July 2007.


Sources: Wikipedia, Afripol


Last modified on Saturday, 13 June 2015 04:50

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