Born in Nigeria, Olajuwon didn't step onto a basketball court until the age of 17. Within a year he was a Nigerian international. Here he recounts his journey to America and university in Houston, his success in the NBA since turning professional in 1984, and his return to the Muslim faith. In a sport known for producing arrogant professional athletes, Olajuwon is regarded as a rare phenomenon - a sporting gentleman. Aware of his position as a role model, he wants to pass on his story of success as an inspiration to others.
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He grew up in Nigeria and didn't even pick up a basketball until he was seventeen. Two years later, Hakeem Olajuwon powered his American college team, the University of Houston, to the NCAA Final Four -- and that was only the beginning. One of the most remarkable basketball stories of our time.From Booklist:
Olajuwon is the all-star center for the two-time, defending NBA champion Houston Rockets. His life and perspective on his career, however, are far different from most superstar athletes: born and raised in Nigeria, Olajuwon never touched a basketball until he was 17. Spotted by an international basketball scout in Nigeria, Olajuwon was offered a chance to come to America if he would accept a basketball scholarship. It was a no-brainer to a middle-class kid from Lagos who, along with his family and peers, viewed America as the promised land. After success at the University of Houston, it was on to the pros, where he was the first player chosen in the college draft, two spots before a fellow named Michael Jordan. Though much of this account is standard sports-bio filler--"We then played the Celts with their great front line" --what sets the book a notch above the competition is Olajuwon's cultural perspective. Something as simple as the omnipresence of ice water in Houston restaurants made a lasting impression on a skinny kid's first visit to the states. And despite his wealth and success, Hakeem still retains a lot of that skinny kid who thought he'd died and gone to heaven when he landed in Houston. A sure hit with NBA fans young and old. Wes Lukowsky
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