Senior Emmanuel Adoyi has been a main-stay on the court for the past four years. Adoyi is a towering figure for the Lions, standing 6'5" and stretching a pterodactyl-like wing span. He has become the anchor for SAGU’s defense and a fan favorite.
“Emmanuel is one of the hardest workers and biggest winners I have ever coached,” says SAGU men’s basketball head coach Donnie Bostwick, “When I landed E and Caleb Gentry transferred, I knew we were fixing to make a jump to a higher level. E won two HS State Championships and was a huge part of our 2013 runner-up team. We don't get to KC without E these past 4 years.”
Adoyi has played a crucial role in SAGU’s recent successes. In the past four years he has made the trip to the NAIA National Championship each spring. Before SAGU, Adoyi played for Little Rock Parkview and led them to two state championships. But Little Rock is not where his story began. Adoyi’s story is firmly planted 6,700 miles away in Abuja, Nigeria.
Adoyi comes from a very large family and is the youngest of 10. His family of 12 lived modestly in a one bedroom, one bath house. While living in Abuja, Adoyi says it was a blessing to get one meal a day. “Both of my parents had jobs, but they rarely ever got paid on time. Sometimes they worked for over six months without getting any pay, but they still went to work each day hoping to get paid someday soon.”
As a young child, Adoyi excelled in soccer. One day, his older brother took his soccer ball and used it to play basketball. “I was mad because I needed my ball and my brother wouldn’t give it back. As much as I wanted to get my ball back from him, I couldn’t. Respect is very vital in my culture so it was better that I didn’t say anything bad back. All I could to do is watch them play,” recalls Adoyi.
One evening the opportunity arose for Adoyi to join his brother’s game. According to him, that’s when his love of basketball began, “From that point on, I became addicted to the game. I began to skip soccer practices just so that I could play basketball, and that’s how I learned the game at the age of eleven.”
At the age of 14, Adoyi received a scholarship offer from a private school in Arkansas. His parent’s knew the offer was his ticket to a better education. In 2008, he left his home, his family and his friends to travel across the world to play the game he fell in love with three short years before, basketball.
“Before I left Nigeria my mom said these words to me, ‘If you have Jesus Christ and you put him in the center of your heart, you have everything.’ What she said that night stands out in my mind every second of my life,” says Adoyi.
Adoyi strives to put God first in everything – something he believes has been key to the opportunities he has received. “Basketball has given me the opportunity to see the world. I have traveled to more than half of all the states. I’ve received an amazing education, made good friends and have gotten to be a philanthropist.”
It has been nine years since Adoyi has seen his family or visited his home, but he plans to visit soon. Then, he wants to return to the U.S. and use his criminal justice degree to become an immigration officer. But Adoyi knows plans can change in an instant.
“My name is Emmanuel, which means God with us. Truly God has been with me throughout my entire life,” says Adoyi. “I’m not supposed to be alive today, but God has kept me alive for a reason and for a purpose to fulfill his eternal plan. I am called to love and care for people, to praise and tribute him, and to be a philanthropist. God is everything that I live for. God Almighty puts things in my life for a reason, and He has the master plan.”