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Citizen Akoy: Basketball and the Making of a South Sudanese American

Citizen Akoy: Basketball and the Making of a South Sudanese American

ISBN: 9781496203229
Regular price $26.53 USD
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2019 Foreword INDIES Award, Honorable Mention for Adventure, Sports & Rec
2020 Nebraska Book Award

Akoy Agau led Omaha Central High School to four straight high school basketball state championships (2010-13) and was a three-time All-State player. One of the most successful high school athletes in Nebraska's history, he's also a South Sudanese refugee. At age four, Akoy and his family fled Sudan during the Second Sudanese Civil War, and after three years in Cairo, they came to Maryland as refugees. They arrived in Omaha in 2003 in search of a better future.

In Omaha the Agaus joined the largest South Sudanese resettlement population in the United States. While federal resources and local organizations help refugees with housing, health care, and job placement, the challenge to assimilate culturally was particularly steep. For Akoy basketball provided a sense of belonging and an avenue to realize his potential. He landed a Division 1 basketball scholarship to Louisville for a year and a half, then played at Georgetown for two injury-plagued seasons before he graduated in the spring of 2017. With remaining eligibility, he played for Southern Methodist University while pursuing a graduate degree.

In a fluid, intimate, and joyful narrative, Steve Marantz relates Akoy's refugee journey of basketball, family, romance, social media, and coming of age at Nebraska's oldest and most diverse high school. Set against a backdrop of the South Sudanese refugee community in Omaha, Marantz provides a compelling account of the power of sports to blend cultures in the unlikeliest of places.
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