As the citizens of South Sudan raised the flag of the world’s newest nation Saturday, the people of the war-ravaged region could finally exhale — at least for a moment — following 50 years of violence and turmoil.
Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng — a Sudanese refugee — was back home Saturday, joining the festivities and doing his part to help his homeland by hosting the country’s first basketball clinic.
Deng set up shop on the one basketball court in the new state’s capital city, Juba — which by the looks of this video could use a bit of a facelift — to share the game he loves with youth who know little about the sport. Members of the country’s new national basketball team have also been practicing on Juba’s court in the lead up to independence.
“I was watching some of those kids today on the court and some of the stuff they’re doing — I’m shaking my head at how talented they are. And if they get the opportunity, I’m sure they’ll be doing what I’m doing or even better. And I’m just excited and I hope they get that opportunity.”
The former No. 7 overall draft pick and 2007 NBA Sportsmanship Award winner sat down with John Predergast of the Enough Project to End Genocide to share his passion for his country of origin and the importance of its new independent status.
Deng echoed the thoughts of his fellow countrymen and women when he described Saturday as “a big day — a very, very special day for all of us. It’s going to be a bright future.”