The Los Angeles Lakers got themselves a big win on Tuesday night as they snapped their three-game losing streak by defeating the Denver Nuggets. For Luol Deng however, there has been a lot more on his mind than basketball recently.
President Donald Trump recently signed a controversial executive order banning people coming to America from seven Muslim-majority countries including Deng’s home country of Sudan. There were some concerns about the ban possibly affecting Deng, though now it is known that isn’t the case since Deng’s citizenship is with South Sudan, a separate country from Sudan.
“I think a lot of people are confused a little bit, but South Sudan and Sudan used to be one country and now separate, so the ban doesn’t really include myself but it affects me because I know a lot of people from Sudan and I know a lot of people that I grew up with who are affected by it.”
Deng and his family fled the country when he was five. He eventually became a British citizen before moving to the US at the age of 14 to attend Blair Academy in New Jersey.
“I’ve been fortunate and very lucky to have the opportunity that I have and I know for a lot of refugees that can’t speak up or they could never be heard, so I wanted to just put it out there and let people know how proud I am to be a refugee and for every opportunity I’ve gotten in my life. We never really asked to leave my homeland and a lot of these people go through a lot of things that they have no control of to see a light at the end of the tunnel and to go towards that light and then the light is turned off is very difficult, individually and for the family. I remember as a kid as a refugee in Egypt there was always a hope that we get to leave tomorrow, that we get to go somewhere, we never knew where, we just wanted somewhere where we could have an opportunity to make something out of it, that opportunity came 5 years later.”
With the NBA being such an international league now, things of this nature are bound to affect different players, coaches and the league itself. In fact, the NBA contacted the State Department as they have their Basketball Without Borders which conducts camps in countries in Africa including Sudan.
Although Deng prefers not to get involved in politics, as a refugee himself, Deng was willing to share his story, and questioned the notion of terrorist attacks coming from Sudanese refugees.
“I’ve watched the news and I’ve read a lot. If you really want to look into that, you’ve got to go into facts and what is true and what is not. From what I understand, I haven’t seen a lot of refugees committing terrorist acts, in this country I’m speaking about, and going back to the story that I said earlier it took my five years to get the opportunity I got, I’m sure the background check and everything was done, and even to speak about this I don’t know where this goes afterwards, so right now it’s just hope and being patient.”
This is a unique situation for someone like Deng, and he is choosing to speak out on it because it affects him and many people that he knows. He added that he has no issue taking the lead on this issue and speaking out which many across the country are already doing.
**All quotes obtained by Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters**