From Nigeria to Ada: Godsgift Ezedinma's incredible journey to ECU
ADA, Oklahoma (KTEN)- "I might walk two hours, get to the basketball court, and it starts raining," East Central junior forward Godsgift Ezedinma said. "That might be a day where we didn't get to do anything."
That was the reality Ezedinma faced playing on the outdoor courts in Nigeria.
But after he picked up the sport at 13 years old, no amount of adversity could deter him.
"We have to wear shoes that are not your size," Ezedinma said. "I'm a size 14 and I was wearing 17s. Sometimes I wore 12s just because that's what I had."
That dedication eventually paid off. When Ezedinma was 15, Michael Jefferson, an American coach, provided him the opportunity to continue his career in Texas.
"I can remember when I looked out the plane it felt like everywhere was on fire because everybody had power," Ezedinma said. "I've never seen that when you look out at Nigeria."
Even once he got to America, the challenges didn't stop. The summer before his sophomore year, he was involved in a wreck.
"I looked at my fingers and they were all dangling," Ezedinma said. "I told my foster brother, I don't think I'm going to play basketball again."
Ezedinma broke four fingers in that accident, but he rehabbed back to full strength eventually earning a scholarship offer from Division I Incarnate Word. But after two seasons he decided to move on.
So after some time in the portal, Ezedinma ended up at ECU in Ada, Oklahoma. And although it may be thousands of miles away from his family in Nigeria, he quickly found a home away from home.
"He gets out of the car, he throws both hands in the air big like he always does and just smiles and says, 'What's up coach,'" East Central head coach Daniel Wheeler said. "You could tell he was just excited to be here."
"He was barely talking about be scoring the ball," Ezedinma said. "He was talking about me being a person and that's what I wanted from a coach."
At ECU, he has had an instant impact. He's currently the Tigers second-leading scorer this season, but he's not doing the journey alone.
He now has his two year old son Kyrie by his side.
"When he came into my life, he changed it," Ezedinma said. "He made me realize that something matters more and shoutout Coach Wheeler for letting him be a part of our program. He always says we have 14 guys and sometimes we have fourteen and a half, and that half is Kyrie."
And as Ezedinma balances everything on his plate, head coach Daniel Wheeler couldn't be prouder of the man he has become.
"The best thing about GG is the type of father he is," Wheeler said. "He takes it so seriously. He loves hoops and he takes his school work seriously, but nothing will get in the way of being a father. He's what it's all about."
Ezedinma still has a year of eligibility left after this season. He plans to pursue a masters in business once he completes his undergraduate degree this year.