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Nigerians Excelling in American Sports

There seems to be a growing number of Nigerian-Americans, who are excelling at the top levels of high school, college and professional sports.

Here is a list of some of the most famous ones making Nigeria proud:


1. The Amukamara family

The Amukamara family leads the Nigerian-Americans involved at different levels of sport in the United States. The family patriarch, Romanus Amukamara migrated to the United States from Nigeria in 1980 on a student visa. As a student, sports provided recreation and structure for the now 65-year-old maths teacher. Romanus played soccer whilst his wife, Christy ran the tracks in Nigeria hence, their children’s affinity for sports.

The eldest daughter, Princess, 28, played football in High School before turning to softball in College. 24-year-old Precious took after their mother and won seven Arizona State High School track and field championships. Promise, 21, and Peace, 20, are basketball teammates at Arizona State University and helped make Arizona State the top-10 team this season, whilst brother Prince, 25, is a cornerback for the Giants. 17-year old Passionate is still a high school senior and yet to sign a scholarship offer but played for a team at an Arizona prep basketball championship.


2. Andre Iguodala and Ime Udoka of the N.B.A

Moving up to the N.B.A, Andre Iguodala and Ime Udoka are Nigeria’s representatives doing really well. Iguodala plays as a shooting guard for the Golden State Warriors whilst Udoka, who had played for San Antonio Spurs before retiring, is an assistant coach for the Spurs.


3. Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike of the W.N.B.A

Sisters, Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike of the W.N.B.A made history when they became the only siblings drafted No. 1 over all in a professional sports besides NFL legends, Peyton and Eli Manning.


4. The Acho brothers

The Acho brothers, Samuel and Emmanuel, play as linebackers for Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles in the N.F.L. respectively.


5. Courtney Okolo

Last year, Courtney Okolo of The University of Texas set a women’s N.C.A.A. 400 meters record of 50.03 seconds.


6. Christian Okoye 

His success in the NFL laid the foundation for the current crop of Nigerian-American athletes because he had an exceptional career as a running back with the Kansas City Chiefs.


7. Hakeem Olajuwon

Olajuwon has a Hall of Fame basketball career with The University of Houston and the Houston Rockets.


8. Obafemi Martins

Obafemi Martins, who plays as a striker for MLS team, Seattle Sounders after an impressive career in Europe, was voted second best in the MLS Most Valuable Player award last season.


9. Christina Abowora

Aborowa, 18, knew almost nothing about basketball three or four years ago until she was spotted by a coach in Lagos. The coach encouraged her to learn the game – against her mother’s wishes – and eventually took her to Philadelphia with the help of a foundation called ‘Hope 4 Girls Africa’. Now, Aborowa is a die-hard basketball fan and hopes to study computer science at the University.

“Before, I didn’t have a life; there was no opportunity to go forward” she said. We believe in hard work,” Aborowa said of herself and other Nigerians. “It’s in the blood, to go hard every time, to go for what you want.”

In recent times, some of these Nigerian-Americans have returned to represent their fatherland. At the 2012 London Olympics, nine players on the Nigerian men’s basketball team were actually born in the United States.

Mark Jelks, who had represented United States previously, switched his allegiance to Nigeria in 2014 and represented the country at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.


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