From a refugee to a hoopster

From a refugee to a hoopster

From a refugee to a hoopster

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. The saying certainly holds true for the Lebanese centre Ater Majok who had to change continents to find a place which he can call home.    

His journey from Sudan to Lebanon is nothing short of inspiring. Majok, the oldest of six children, was born in Sudan. His family, refugees from the war in Sudan, moved to Egypt when Majok was a child. He spent eight years in the detention camp before finding a place of solace in Australia through a United Nations visa in 2000.

"It was a crazy journey. It has been tough, at the end of the day. Considering the kind of area I come from, I never expected to be where I am today", said Majok. "Everything in life is a lesson. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger," he added.

Majok was introduced to basketball in Australia. Being an athletic child, he soon learned the game. The 6'10'' player was 21 when he moved to the United States where he enrolled in the University of Connecticut before earning a contract with Homenetmen Beirut, a professional club in the Lebanese league. His stint at this club earned him citizenship of the nation.

Majok has gone through a lot of hardships but the centre believes in letting the 'bygones be bygones'. "There are people, who have gone through a worse time than me. There might be people who are not even here today after going through a lot of things. You just have to keep moving forward and smiling," he said.

If anything at all, Majok has taken the positives from his time in the camp. He became tough and aggressive, which was clearly visible during the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifier match. The tall centre ruled the court in Lebanon's dominating 90-50 win over India at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium on Monday.

"It helped me a lot. It helped me become tough, mentally. No matter what, you just have to keep fighting and  strive to succeed" said Majok. "At the end of the day, I have nothing to lose. I come from nothing and I am trying to build everything," he added.

The experiences in Sudan and Egypt have left an indelible mark in Majok's life, but the 30-year-old channelises that aggression only on court.

"It did influence me a lot. Off the court, I am different, very quite and calm, but on the court I will try to show off my aggression and dominate other players. It is about winning, and leaving a legacy," he remarked.