Emeka Okafor is an American basketball player of Nigerian descent who began playing in the NBA in 2004 after he gave up his senior season in Connecticut to be selected by the Charlotte Bobcats as the second overall team to play in the NBA this year. As a college student, Okafor won the National Defensive Player of the Year award presented to him by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and also received the Big East Player of the Year award.
Emeka Okafor Bio
Okafor was born on September 28, 1982, in Houston, Texas, to Nigerian parents (Pius and Celestina Okafor) under the birth name Chukwuemeka Ndubuisi Okafor. His father belongs to the Igbo ethnic group and immigrated to the USA after the Nigerian civil war, which caused millions of deaths.
Pius Okafor worked in Houston as an accountant in an oil company before moving with his family to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, when he started working for the Phillips Petroleum Company. Okafor Sr. now settled in Oklahoma and brought Emeka to the Bartlesville YMCA where he learned to play basketball, and he then played basketball at Bellaire High School.
As a senior, he averaged twenty-two points, sixteen rebounds, and seven blocks. At the end of high school, he accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Connecticut after turning down offers from Vanderbilt and Arkansas. From 2001 to 2004, he played college basketball with the Huskies. At the end of his college career, he won the NCAA’s Outstanding Player, the National Defensive Player of the Year award from NABC, and the Big East Player of the Year award at the NCAA tournament.
Emeka Okafor NBA Career
After spending three academic years in Connecticut and earning a degree in Accounting/Finance, Emeka Okafor announced that he was giving up his last year as a college athlete for the NBA, and that is exactly what he did. He would be selected by the Charlotte Bobcats as the second overall choice in the 2004 NBA Draft.
At the end of his rookie season, he won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, beating Ben Gordon of the Bulls after achieving 10.9 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and 15.1 points per game. Before the start of the 2007/08 season, he reportedly declined a five-year contract extension with the franchise company worth a staggering $60 million.
Although he declined the offer, he continued to play with the team until the 2008 season break when he signed a seven-year contract worth $72 million, which became the largest contract in the franchise’s history. In July 2009, he joined the New Orleans Hornets for Tyson Chandler. His stay in the team did not bring much as his points became less and less.
In June 2012 he was traded again, this time to the Washington Wizards alongside teammate Trevor Ariza in exchange for Rashard Lewis and a pick (46th) in the NBA Draft that year. At the end of his one-year season with the team, he was named a finalist for the first Twyman Stokes teammate of the year award for his amazing contributions with the team, both on and off the court, throughout the season.
Before the start of the 2013/04 season, Emeka Okafor was transferred to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for four players (Malcolm Lee, Shannon Brown, Kendall Marshall, and Marcin Gortat), but unfortunately, he missed the entire season due to a broken disc in his neck.
The injury would keep him away longer than expected, as he was absent for the next three seasons (2014/15, 2015/16, and 2016/17). In May 2017 he was declared fit to play by the doctors and in September he signed a contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, which he waived the following month after five games in the preseason.
Later that month Okafor joined the Delaware 87ers in the NBA G League, in February 2018 he signed a ten-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans, which was renewed with another ten-day contract after ten days, and after the second ten-day contract expired he signed a contract with the franchise company for the remainder of the season.
Emeka Okafor was a member of the US national men’s basketball team that represented the country at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. He is a cousin of another NBA player, Jahlil Okafor. In 2005, the center forward appeared on the cover of the NCAA video game March Madness. He also had a guest appearance in the American TV drama series One Tree Hill.
His Wife & Family
Okafor married his long-time girlfriend Ilana Nunn in 2012, and they are blessed with two lovely children. Ilana graduated from the University of North Carolina.
She had worked for BDA Sports as Director of Public Relations and also worked in the communications department of the NBA and WNBA.
His Height, Weight, And Body Measurements
The NBA star is 6 ft 8 inches (2.08 m) tall and has a fantastic athletic body that weighs 256 pounds (116 kg) to match his intimidating frame.