He’s one of the world’s most decorated sports stars, with an enviable list of achievements, the likes of which would be a massive array any successful team, as a whole,would be proud of. But, despite the NBA championship rings, multi Finals MVPs – amongst his other playing recognitions – his place in Basketball’s Hall of Fame and endless other achievements, the one ‘prize’ that Hakeem Olajuwon would say he has over all is his family.
The Nigerian-born American nicknamed ‘The Dream’ and a true legend of his sport, throughout the world, would always tell you that he is overwhelmingly grateful for what he has achieved in therough-and-tumble of what is the game’s greatest league, but all of that will always pale into relative insignificance when compared to the importance of his family.
An example of that is the fact that hehas swapped the sunny climes of his home in Texas, in the US, for the ‘not so-sunny’ temperatures of the UK, as he follows his daughter, Abi, who is studying at the University of Birmingham. Lagos-born Hakeem has made the city his home whilst Abisola which, means "born into wealth and the wealth is greater than them," completes her studies and whilst following his daughter’s dreams, he’s taken the opportunity to impart some of the wealth of knowledge and experience he has onto a generation of basketball players in and around the city in no uncertain way.
Following the announcement of his own camp in Birmingham, along with plans for an academy, Olajuwon has been seen around the city, including an impromptu appearance at the university practice where he went one-on-one with a player. Now fully ensconced in the UK’s second city he set up the ‘Hakeem Olajuwon City of Birmingham Basketball Club Summer Camp,’ the first of its kind, for all players on a residential and day basis.In addition to the presence of the NBA Hall of Fame inductee, he has managed to engage coaches from Houston,together with some of the UK’s leading Coaches in basketball development.“I am proud to be a partner with theCity of Birmingham Basketball Club,”Olajuwon said.
“It confirmed to me that there is a thriving basketball community n Birmingham and CoB Basketball Clubis something I want to be involved in.Seeing all those young people, boys and girls, together with coaches and parents supporting all that was going on is how the game must be.”Club directors Kirk Dawes and Robert Palmer were delighted to be able to assemble a fantastic coaching staff including Camp Director Peter Mintoft and Houston skill trainers Donte Mathis and Kenneth Gamble to work alongside an array of experienced coaches from the club and around the UK. Our dedicated staff of 40 ensured that our child welfare programme was meticulous and every camper was treated to a very personal service.
With campersfrom all over the country and as far awayas India and Hong Kong it truly was adiverse experience! He (Hakeem) has surpassed expectations spending an amazing amount oftime inspiring the campers – with care taken to ensure everyone is developed fully. We are truly blessed to have him here.”Now age 54, Hakeem ‘The Dream’ Olajuwonis proving a man of great excellence,both on and off the court, as he follows daughter, Abi’s, ultimate dream– whilst making others, here in the UK – come true.