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Just living the dream

Nigerian-born Emmanuel Anumba is making the most of his opportunities in America

Posted: December 15, 2008 10:27 p.m.
Updated: December 16, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Valencia High senior basketball player Emmanuel Anumba is making an impact with the Vikings. He is second on the team in scoring at 12.4 points per game. Anumba is also averaging 5.8 rebounds per game.

 

In 1995, a Nigerian family of six trekked across the desert plains of Africa and across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States.

With only his precious cargo and a dream, family patriarch Raphael Anumba set out for the Sunshine State.

Just two years prior, Raphael and his family were randomly selected in a visa lottery to relocate to the U.S.

The elder Anumba always wanted his children to have an opportunity for a higher education.

He says he believed that education was the best way for his children to experience life's many opportunities.

"In our family culture, everyone aspires to have a good education," Raphael says. "I wanted to give them the best education. That's why we came. We seized the opportunity to come here and use whatever good opportunities we had."

One of Raphael's sons is making the most of opportunities with an education in the classroom and on the basketball court at Valencia High.

It was on Halloween when the Anumba family arrived in California.

Raphael's youngest son at the time, Emmanuel was taken aback.

Emmanuel says he's had a fear of vampires ever since.

But at the time, this American tradition was foreign to him - much like many other things.

Like basketball.

As a young boy in Nigeria, Emmanuel recalls playing soccer. A sport he took up because his older brother played.

Emmanuel, the second of five children, remembers always following in his brother Ralph's footsteps.

After all, it was Ralph who first put a basketball in his hands.

Ralph graduated from Valencia in 2007. He played two years of varsity basketball at Valencia.

Emmanuel's sister, Faith, is a sophomore on the girls varsity team this year.

In the third grade, Emmanuel found more inspiration.

He recalls watching NBA player Kevin Garnett.

The 6-foot-11-inch Garnett's moves in the paint and emotionally charged demeanor sparked Emmanuel's desire.

"I wanted to fly like him," the senior swingman says.

During the summer of his fifth-grade year, Emmanuel travelled to Nigeria for a month to visit family.

It was the first time he had been back since the family moved five years earlier.

He saw just how much his life had changed.

"I didn't understand the differences, I was too young," Emmanuel says. "But now I appreciate stuff more because they don't have the things that I have. I get to go to school for free. My parents have to send my family money so that they can go to school."

Family members opened their arms and ears to Emmanuel's new experiences in America.

The family was intrigued by some of his belongings.

"When I went back I took a pair of roller skates," he says. "My grandmother had never seen something like that and she said they looked like a motorcycle.

"It was interesting," he adds of his home country. "I had never seen anything like it. There were barely any roads. It was all dirt roads. The houses were engulfed in plants. People take buses everywhere because people don't have cars. It's not very modernized. They don't have electricity like us. We had to use lamps at night to walk around and we had to boil water to take baths."

Raphael, a computer programer, says that his childhood is a far cry from that of his children.

"We never tried to impact the African way of living on our children," Raphael says. "We wanted to use whatever America has. He's just like every other American kid."

Now a senior at Valencia, Emmanuel is a significant part of the Vikings' varsity basketball team.

Elected a captain by his teammates, Emmanuel averages 12.4 points per game. He's also added 20 assists, 46 rebounds, 12 steals and 10 blocks so far this season and helped lead the Vikings to win the
Canyon Classic Tournament this past weekend.

Raphael can be seen in the stands at his son's games.

He's one of his biggest supporters.

And now Raphael has successfully fulfilled his American dream.

He anxiously awaits to see his son fulfill his.

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