"My Dad Pushed Me Into The Street": Young Basketballer Helped by Lawyer Speaks on His Life Travails

"My Dad Pushed Me Into The Street": Young Basketballer Helped by Lawyer Speaks on His Life Travails

The story of David Etim, a talented basketball player, is an example of how someone's life could change if they have the right kind of influence. His story also illustrates the saying that one's background does not necessarily determine one's future.

David Etim gets scholarship to study abroad.
David will soon move to the US to study in a high school. Photo credit: Facebook/Faithfulness Okom.
Source: Facebook

Born in Ikot Ukpong village of Obot Akara LGA in Akwa Ibom state, David will soon travel to the United States to commence a scholarship at an American high school. The scholarship came as a result of his basketball prowess, but there is more to his story.

David's father pushed him away

Pushed out by his father to navigate life on his own at a tender age, David was walking in the streets of Calabar in 2021 before he had a life-changing encounter with Faithfulness Okom, a sports lawyer who is now based in Spain.

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In a Facebook post, Barrister Okom wrote of how he discovered the budding basketball talent.

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"In 2021, I was driving along Marian Road, Calabar and saw a really tall, lanky kid, and I parked the car and chased after him to talk to him. “Do you play Basketball?”… His response was he started playing a few weeks before but barely had time cos his mom was absent, and his dad was a bricklayer, and he had to assist him on his projects and also do personal laundry for three families on the side. He didn’t have a phone. I described where I live and said come on the next day and knock on the gate, and I’ll be there."

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Picked up by a stranger

When Barrister Okom saw David on the streets of Calabar, he was convinced he could be a basketball star owing to his impressive height. After taking him in, David's life started to change gradually.

But Barrister Okom knew he had an enormous amount of work to do because David's father was highly unsupportive of the kid.

David himself mentioned this in an interview with Legit.ng. He said his father pushed him away.

His words:

"My biggest difficulty was in getting people who would help me, while also believing in me since my dad had pushed me into the streets to navigate life on my own."

With Barrister Okom in his life as a guide, David really had nothing to worry about, especially as Okom's parents accepted him into their home as one of their own. Soon, he was enrolled into a basketball academy in Calabar run by John Okwute.

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It was a difficult task for Barrister Okom

Barrister Okom describes what it felt like and how David's journey began. He told Legit.ng:

"It’s an incredible feeling, to be honest. I always felt the weight of responsibility to try to do my best and contribute to changing the trajectory of his life. When I met David, he had no ambitions; for him, the ceiling for his life was to eventually work in a “computer centre” or “business centre”, as people call it. And the first aspect for me was to try to change that and change his mindset and make sure that he dreams of greater things. Hanging around me and my family made his dream bigger, and for me, that was the biggest victory. Every other thing falls in line when you can dream."

David's father was unsupportive of his talent

There were many challenges that stood in David's way of honing his basketball talent, but the largest chunk of them came from his biological family. His father was off-putting and was said to have even burned clothes bought for him by Barrister Okom.

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Barrister Okom narrated what he went through while trying to get David's father to support the kid's ambitions.

"I think you can imagine what it looks like picking up someone from the streets with very little education comes with its own challenges and it’s part of the process, and since my parents have been in the business of helping people there’s really nothing they haven’t seen and so there were no insurmountable attitudinal problems. We dealt with everything. Perhaps what threw us aback the most was the fact that his dad was persistently unsupportive, unpleasant and vitriolic towards him. I was startled when he burnt a whole suitcase of clothes we gave David and rebuffed all my dad’s efforts to have a sit down with him. He eventually pushed him away from his house and everything is strange but I’m glad David did not let him deter him."

David's life is about to change for the better

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Despite the challenges, it was not long before things started to shape up for David when he started his basketball training in Calabar. He has established himself as a talented basketballer and owing to this, has received scholarships to study in a high school in America where he would be open to a lot of opportunities.

Barrister Okom narrated the story of how David's breakthrough happened. He said:

"He made a lot of progress over the months, and his basketball coach and my dad always called to keep me in the loop. Recently, he forwarded a PDF of an invite from the NBA Africa Academy in Senegal for tryouts; I thought it was fake. I verified, and it turned out to be real. He needed flight tickets to Senegal, and my homeboy Kennedy Ekezie was generous enough to buy them without even being asked. Last night, David sent me these photos from Senegal and told me because of his performances, he’s gotten a scholarship to an American high school, and we only need to figure out the visa."

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The combined efforts of Barrister Faithfulness Okom, his parents, basketball coach, John Okwute, and Kennedy Ekezie, who bought the flight ticket, have now seen David poised to soar high in life and have better opportunities.

How David feels presently

Legit.ng asked David how he felt about the recent positive turn of events, and he said he was overwhelmed.

His words:

"I discovered I could play basketball after meeting Barr Faithfulness Okom. He spoke to me about the sport, after my first encounter with him, when he met me on the street. I had tried to play basketball but stopped because I felt it was too tasking for me, and I would not be able to cope with the rigours of the sport. Barr Faithfulness Okom made me believe I could play and got me registered in a Basketball Academy and today I'm fully in love with the game.

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"I can't thank Barr Okom enough. I am forever grateful to him, and his parents; Professor Michael and Apostle Mrs Mercy Okom, who are now my adopted parents, and have taken me in as their own son, and treated me as such, with utmost care, affection and attention. I have been a member of their household for four years now, and they have invested a lot of resources into my growth as a person. I pray God continues to bless them."

What can be done to support talents at the grassroots level?

There is no doubt that there are other talented kids roaming the streets looking for someone to help them express their God-given talents. Legit.ng asked Barrister Okom what could be done about this to avoid talents being wasted in the country.

His response:

"I think everyone knows that there is a lot of work that needs to be done on the grassroots level to help sporting talent. The problems that plague the grassroots system are systemic and the first step to address them is building infrastructure. Even if there are 1000 people working overtime like me to help grassroots talent, our work can be outdone in a second by a responsible government. Nothing beats building good pitches or basketball courts, giving people kits and sporting equipments and providing world-class personnel.

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"We are in Nigeria and the reality is grim. I recognize that we have a long way to go and I don’t think it is realistic to hope that things get better in the nearest future and that’s why I made the decision to do my own best and brighten my corner."

Man entertains people with football skills

Meanwhile, a highly talented man gathered a large crowd and entertained them with his impressive football skills.

The man made use of a tennis ball, but his skills became evident with the way he touched it with parts of his body.

The large crowd which gathered to watch him cheered with loud voices as he entertained them non-stop.

Proofreading by Nkem Ikeke, journalist and copy editor at Legit.ng.

Source: Legit.ng

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