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Dacresha “Dee” Benton and also Chukwudi “Chucky” Okafor met in forth Smith, Arkansas. Dee was from surrounding Roland, Oklahoma, whereby she was a 6’2″ unstoppable basketball force prior to a knee injury and baby daughter cut her play career short. Chucky, who flourished up in Chicago, was playing junior university ball.

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“She had actually a an excellent personality,” stated Chucky. “She was just so playful, and also brutally honest. Her spirit would touch everyone in the room. I can see it all in Jahlil.”

When Jahlil to be born, he had a basketball in his hands by the moment he was four months old. There’s home video clip of him play hoops while still in diapers. His dad, who eventually moved earlier to Chicago after points didn’t occupational out through Dee, continuously visited Jahlil and also brought him various toy basketball hoops.

For this family, basketball was everything.

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2. His Mother passed away at the period of 29


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When Jahlil was just nine year old, a tragedy adjusted his life forever. Together he to be watching TV v his enlarge sister, Jalen, his mother, who had actually been taking care of a bought of bronchitis, began coughing uncontrollably. When Jahlil realized it wasn’t a joke, he referred to as 911 and his mom was required to the hospital. She had actually suffered a broke down lung, and also the physicians weren’t able to conserve her.

Fighting v the unimaginable heartbreak, Okafor turned to the basketball court as his sanctuary.

Now 10 years later, Jahlil’s Twitter profile reads: “R.I.P i love you mom.” top top Mother’s Day, he post the above snapshot on Instagram, writing, “What i wouldn’t do to be in this women’s lap again. Don’t ever take for granted your moms being around, let them recognize you love lock today and also every work after that as well.”

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3. His Father has actually Used His very own Mistakes to Raise Jahlil as a far better Man

Growing up in Chicago, Chucky Okafor got into a great amount the trouble. The stole credit cards, stole cars, saw a juvenile detention center twice and was kicked the end of school on many occasions.

But as soon as Jahlil’s mother passed away and also he concerned Chicago to remain with his father, Chucky knew it was time he had actually to change his ways.

“I experienced him shot to develop a human being far better than who he was,” said Chucky’s sister, Chinyere Okafor. “I understand that Chukwudi constantly knew his potential and also understood that he lost out because he lost his route or lost the idea that dreaming big. And also he refused – certainly refused – come let that occur to any type of seed or blood the his.”

While Chucky to be there because that Jahlil in a time of need and was integral in his son arising into a bona-fide superstar, the relationship functioned both ways. Together Jahlil explained, he additionally saved his father:

He’s been the greatest father because that me. Going roughly the streets of Chicago with my dad, people always tell me they can’t believe how much my dad has matured. Or, ‘You wouldn’t think how her dad offered to be.’ There’s constantly lots the words around how lot he’s changed. I understand he had a rough childhood cultivation up, and also he made part mistakes as soon as he was really young. However ever because I’ve lived v him, I understand he’s said numerous times the I’ve readjusted his life.

As Jahlil rolling to a nationwide championship during his student in the first year year in ~ Duke, Chucky was a mainstay in the stands, serving as one of the team’s many vocal and entertaining supporters:


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According come the Hartford Courant, Jahlil and also NBA veteran Emeka Okafor are remote cousins. Over there isn’t much written on their relationship, however Emeka’s parents and also Chucky’s dad space both natives of Nigeria. Chucky additionally has a brother called Emeka.

A three-year starter at UConn, whereby he led the Huskies to a national title in 2004, Emeka has appreciated a absent solid nine-year NBA career. He was drafted 2nd overall in 2004, won the Rookie of the Year and also is averaging 12.3 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks because that his career. He started 77 gamings for the Washington Wizards in 2012-13, but an injury sidelined that the following year and he stays unsigned.

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Chucky, who shed his mom when that was only 18 months old, has 5 siblings, yet older sister Chinyere to be the one who elevated him like a mother. And when Jahlil’s mother passed away, she presume a similar function for her nephew. The calls her “auntie-mom.”

“His household has offered him this happiness and also this support and also this love of life that is unbelievably uncommon,” battle each other head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “It’s just a terrific family unit the this child is a part of.”

In enhancement to enlarge sister Jalen, Jahlil additionally has two younger brothers, Jamonte and also Ashondre.