DJ Mbenga of the Los Angeles Lakers: If We Could Be Like Him

Growing up, I remember seeing those Gatorade commercials: "If I could be like Mike." Everywhere you went, the store, the gym, the schools, it seemed as if all the kids wanted to be like Michael "Mike" Jordan.

Now kids want to be like Kobe and Lebron. Our kids turn these athletes into heroes for what they are able to accomplish on the basketball court. We are no better than our kids as we accord legendary status to those who achieve an extraordinary level of excellence.

Kobe, Lebron, and Michael are all to be admired for what they do on the basketball court. They are all the very best at what they do. And with apologies to Magic and Wilt, they will probably be considered the holy trinity of basketball players in the future.

Still, the player I admire most won't go down as a top 3 player ever when it's all said and done. In fact, he has virtually no shot of ending up in the Hall of Fame. They won't build a statute of him outside of any arena. Sons and fathers won't tell tales of his heroics on the court. They won't hang his jersey in the rafters. Nonetheless, his exploits and his story might influence more lives in a positive way than any of the other three can.

I want to be like Mbenga.

Didier llunga-Mbenga (D.J) was born and raised in what is now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). He was born into a political family and his father was a government employee.

After a new regime took over in the country, D.J., his father, and his brothers were all imprisoned. D.J. and his family were set to be executed for their political opposition. But before the killings could take place, D.J's father negotiated for his sons to be released from jail.

D.J. made it; his father had to stay behind, and was eventually executed.

D.J. could not stay in his native country. If he remained, he would certainly be murdered. Instead, he tr...

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