This offseason the Los Angeles Lakers signed veteran forward Luol Deng to a four-year, $72 million contract.
The 31-year-old was born in Wau, Sudan, which is now South Sudan, before moving to Egypt and then London where he stayed through high school before going to Duke to play in college. Deng has played for the Great Britain National Team, most recently in the 2012 London Olympics.
He has done a lot for the country he grew up in, including hosting a camp for the top high school basketball players in the country that he calls the DENGTOP50 camp. He recently hosted his third annual camp at the London Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.
According to Joey Ramirez of Lakers.com, Deng wants to prove to the kids that he is just like them:
“I just want them to know that I’ve been in a similar situation as them,” Deng said in a camp video. “I grew up here. This is the same gym that I used to try to sneak in and play basketball. And now we’re having camps in it. There’s nothing different about me with them.”
Many players from the camp, like Deng, have gone on to play collegiately in the United States and professionally in Europe.
In 12 NBA seasons, Deng has averaged 15.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. He was named an All-Star twice, in 2012 and 2013 as a member of the Chicago Bulls. This past season he averaged 12.3 points, and 6.0 rebounds a game as a member of the Miami Heat.
He figures to provide veteran leadership to the Lakers young nucleus this season, whether that be in a starting role or off the bench.
Deng was drafted seventh overall by the Phoenix Suns in 2004 after playing just one season at Duke.