Meet Mr. Festus, the philanthropist, the professional athlete, and the fashion enthusiast who stands alone. His African roots have became his armor, stoic and unimpressed by the facade of fame, yet not opposed to embracing his “inner stellar”. His clean cut, tailored fashions hide his physical discipline, his unwavering sense of self, and the visceral instinct that he is where he belongs. He will not–he can not lose.
Enjoy our exclusive interview and come to know Festus Ezeli as a force to be reckoned with.
QG: We read about your long and incredible journey to become an NBA basketball player. Your path to success was not easy. It is clear that your strength and determination has come from your experiences growing up in Nigeria. What was the biggest challenge of your life, and how did you overcome it?
Festus Ezeli (FE): One of the biggest challenges of my life was leaving my family in Nigeria at the age of 14. I moved to the US to live with my uncle, in search of greener pastures. But life in America was very different and challenging for me. I missed my family, my friends, my environment and the only home I knew. It was especially lonely because I moved in with my uncle who was a specialist pediatrician in Yuba City, California with a very busy practice – which meant he worked long hours. I had to learn to be by myself most of the time and the loneliness was very hard on me.
In an effort to make friends, I chose to pursue what turned out to be my biggest challenge yet – Basketball. In an effort to assimilate me into my new culture, my uncle signed me up to play ball for an AAU team and also enrolled me in Jesuit High School in Sacramento. Basketball, however, proved to be a bigger challenge than I envisioned. I couldn’t even do some of the basic things that kids younger than me could. I was very frustrated with myself; and in turn, the coaches were frustrated with me as well. The lowest point of it all was when I was cut from my high school team