Thursday, September 28, 2023

African parents who molded some of the 2022 NFL Draft’s biggest names.

April 28, 2022 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Sports, Weekly Columns

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( Football is the most popular sport on the beautiful continent of Africa. However, it is not the American version of football known for touchdowns and tackling but what is referred to as soccer in the U.S. The 2022 NFL Draft is one of the biggest showcases of football in the U.S. as former collegiate football players begin their professional careers in the best American-style football league in the world. This year has another interesting group of young men making their entries into the National Football League and a lot of the top prospects have parents who could have steered them into playing Africa’s favorite sport instead of becoming talented football players. Parents are always important in the life of an athlete and here are parents, who were born in Africa, who shaped the lives of their future NFL sons:

Tagbo and Amaka Ekwonu (Nigeria) parents of NC State offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu: Ikem Ekownu seems to have gotten his intellectual and athletic gifts from both of his parents. Tagbo seems to have given Ikem his height. Tagbo is a 6’6 doctor who played for the Nigerian basketball team in college. Amaka seems to have given Ikem her athletic dexterity. Amaka is an accountant who was a high school track star that competed in sprinting, the high jump, the long jump and the shot put. The intelligence from both parents is reflected in that fact that before he chose to play college football at NC State, Ikem also received offers to play football at Harvard and Yale. Now Ikem Ekwonu has gone from potential Ivy League college football player to a dark horse pick as the first overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Victor and Ngor Ojabo (Nigeria) parents of Michigan outside linebacker David Ojabo: Nigeria was also the birthplace for David Ojabo, the son of Victor Ojabo and Ngor Ojabo. David’s mom, Ngor, noted that while in Nigeria, “during break time in school in Nigeria, soccer was a normal game boys played”. David’s father, Victor, moved the family to Scotland pursue a new job assignment his father had landed when David was seven years old. While in Scotland, his parents saw him dominated in a variety of sports though none of them was American football. David bugged his parents as a teenager to allow him to move to America and it worked as he moved to New Jersey to play basketball and soccer at Blair Academy. It was as a junior that Ojabo played American football for the first time, and it took some time but he picked up the game well and eventually got several offers to play college football. Ojabo’s mother, Ngor, said the family chose Michigan “because Jim Harbaugh is very relatable. They liked how the staff was like family and how the University emphasized academics.” Victor and Ngor traveled overseas and saw David play football in person for the first time in 2021 when Michigan beat Ohio State. Despite a tough injury, Ojabo will likely be a second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Victor and Ngor Ojabo

Jean Marie Ebiketie and Guy Susanne (Cameroon) parents of Penn State defensive end Arnold Ebiketie: Cameroon has been in the sports spotlight in the NBA Playoffs as Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid and Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam are Cameroon natives who are battling in the NBA Playoffs. However, Arnold Ebiketie was born in the same city as Embiid to parents Jean Marie Ebiketie and Guy Susanne. Ebiketie’s father was assigned to transfer to Washington D.C. when Arnold was 12 and  the potential first round pick of the 2022 NFL Draft played basketball and competed in sprints and the high jump before blossoming into a top-flight football player. He also credits the moving from location to location that helped his transition to transferring from Temple to Penn State, where he played in 2021 as a transfer.

Staff Writer; Mark Hines

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