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SEYI GESINDE writes about the rise to stardom of Abi Olajuwon, daughter of the Nigeria-born former United States basketball star, Hakeem Olajuwon.
Just as her father ruled United States for years as a basketbell player, his daughter popularly known as Abi is currently making waves in the United States in the female basketball team.
Abi, whose full name is Alon Abisola Arisicate Ajoke Olajuwon was born 24 years ago in Houston, Texas, precisely on July 6, 1988.
She began her basketball career when she played for her California high school, Marlborough School. During that time, Abi helped her team win three consecutive Southern Section titles.
In 2006, she became one of the most prized recruits of the graduating high school class and later played college basketball at the University of Oklahoma.
At that time, an ESPN basketball analyst, Nancy Lieberman had said that before the 2006 to 2007 season, the addition of Abi would help propel the Sooners into contention for the NCAA championship.
Abi had played outside the United States for the Romanian club, CSM Satu Mare where she signed a four-months contract at the start of 2011 season.
Abi’s father, Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon, who helped win gold medal for the United States at the Olympics in basketball, is today regarded one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Following her father’s line, Abi’s career has been said to be a dream as well.
Though born in Houston, Texas, Abi went to high school in Southern California.
There in California, Abi earned McDonald’s All-American status in 2006, making her one of the elite high school basketball players in the country.
She thereafter she got admitted to Oklahoma University where she teamed up with the varsity’s basketball players under coach Sherri Coal.
Speaking about her experience under her coach, The Muslim Observer quoted her to have said that: “When I met her in person, I saw how intertwined her family and basketball were. They weren’t separated; they coincided. Everything was together.”
In another publication, sooners illustrated Abi was quoted to have said: “There was no separation between her family and basketball, how that family environment was. And then, her seriousness when it came to the basketball perspective and practice, I knew that was something that I wanted. I know that when my four years are up, I don’t need to worry that I’m not still part of that family.”
It was under the tutelage of Coach Sherri Coal that Abi moved into the starting line-up, and finally ended up starting every game at the centre position during her senior season. Also in her senior season, she led the team to the Final Four of the Women’s NCAA Tournament.
Her outstanding performance saw her being wooed by the Chicago Sky of the Women’s National Basketball Association in the third round, 28th over all, in the 2010 draft. So far with Chicago, she is only averaging seven minutes per game, but she is once again working her way into a prominent role with the team.
Abi’s mother, Lita Richardson, is an entertainment executive and attorney, having been a vice-president for Magic Johnson Enterprises and now a movie and television producer and agent for several prominent stars including Vivica Fox. Abi is, though a graduate of Broadcast Journalism, today, her talent in basketball has elevated her more than her degree in journalism.
Her father Hakeem still lives in Houston, but he is still close to his daughter and provides welcome counsel on basketball and life.
“We talk about basketball. Of course, it’s harder because we don’t live in the same state,” she told Sooners Illustrated.
“My parents are always very supportive of my talents. If I ever need anything, there’s never a hesitation. He’s a very active part of my life at school and otherwise,’’ she stated.Share