Qaddafi's Point Guard: The Incredible Story of a Professional Basketball Player Trapped in Libya's Civil War

Qaddafi's Point Guard: The Incredible Story of a Professional Basketball Player Trapped in Libya's Civil War

by Alex Owumi, Daniel Paisner
     
 

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A Nigerian native who emigrated to the United States at age 11, Alex Owumi's exploits on the basketball court led him to a successful career as a small college player. Undrafted by the NBA, Owumi pursued his pro basketball dream overseas, eventually signing with Al-Nasr of Libya, a state-run athletic club privately funded by the family of then-Libyan president

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Overview

A Nigerian native who emigrated to the United States at age 11, Alex Owumi's exploits on the basketball court led him to a successful career as a small college player. Undrafted by the NBA, Owumi pursued his pro basketball dream overseas, eventually signing with Al-Nasr of Libya, a state-run athletic club privately funded by the family of then-Libyan president Muammar Qaddafi.

Owumi's tenure with Al-Nasr was interrupted by the Libyan uprising and resulting civil war. Imprisoned in his Benghazi apartment for more than 2 weeks with no food, phone, Internet, or hope, Owumi wondered whether he would make it out of Libya alive. Despite his weakened condition and the dangers lurking in the city, he was able to escape Benghazi and flee the country. Smuggled to a refugee camp in Egypt, he was, much to his surprise, contacted by an Egyptian team seeking his services. And so, in a bizarre, storybook ending, Owumi finished the year by helping lead the team to an unlikely league championship, earning league MVP honors in the process.

Qaddafi's Point Guard is a book about hope and longing, conflict (cultural, political, and military), and ultimately, triumph—to overcome obstacles and survive against the most desperate odds.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
12/02/2013
Following his eclectic global basketball career, Owumi, a Nigerian hoopster, ends up in war-torn Libya, barely surviving in an apartment owned by the Qaddafi clan. The African athlete, aided by veteran writer Paisner, sensitively recounts the sport he played with his brothers in his native Lagos as a boy, idolizing the NBA's legendary Hakeem Olajuwon—also from his hometown—and hoping to go to the States to play professionally. After a brief stop in London, Owumi's father gets a post as a professor of finance at Harvard but Owumi's dream of playing in the Big East eventually fizzles, leaving him the less glamorous road to athletic fame at Alcorn State in Mississippi. Next stop is a position with a French team before a stint with a rag-tag Macedonia squad and later with Al-Nasr, a state-run club funded by the powerful Qaddafi family, where he experiences unbelievable scenes of carnage and brutality until he flees to an Egyptian refugee camp. This is a resonant, moving memoir of an African athlete who survives incredible cultural and political challenges to play the sport he loves. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

“The values we learn in basketball extend way beyond the court. I tell this to my St. Anthony players every day in practice, and here in Alex Owumi's incredible story we see it on full display. The game took this young man all over the world in pursuit of his dreams. Somehow, he found the strength to persevere in an impossible situation, against impossible odds, and emerged a champion. His book is a great basketball story, but it's mostly about the triumph of the human spirit, about what it takes to survive. He can play on my team any day.” —Bob Hurley, Sr., Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer and author of Chasing Perfect

“What an adventure it is to tag along with Alex Owumi as he plays his way around the globe! Part sports memoir and part historical thriller, Qaddafi's Point Guard is a truly unique, inspiring tale that reveals just how far one can get on heart and a jump shot--into (and out of) the most amazing and unlikely places.” —Dave Fromm, author of Expatriate Games: My Season of Misadventures in Czech Semi-Pro Basketball

“After three decades of covering basketball, I'm always in search of the unique story. I found it in Alex Owumi's intriguing tale, which expertly mixes sports and the real world.” —Jack McCallum, bestselling author of Dream Team

“How far would you be willing to go to realize a dream that you held dear? Alex Owumi chased his dream of playing pro basketball all over the world, and it nearly cost him his life. Candid, inspiring, and at times harrowing, Qaddafi's Point Guard is an extraordinary tale of basketball and survival guaranteed to stay with you long after you've turned its last page.” —Earl Monroe, Naismith basketball hall of famer and author of Earl the Pearl: My Story

“This might be the most amazing basketball book I've ever read. In fact, it's not really about basketball at all, but rather about one extraordinary young man and his travel adventures linked to a game that has gone global; that is, into a world that is dangerous, exotic, fascinating, and full of tumult. Most of us have little comprehension of the Middle East or the violent uprising in the region that is now known as the Arab Spring, but following point guard Alex Owumi will drop you into it headfirst. You will feel it, you will hear it. And your heart will beat fast as you root for Alex simply to survive the horrors he confronts. Knowledge and growth and redemption are what Owumi ultimately wins on this very unusual court. That, and the understanding that good people exist everywhere, even--especially--during dangerous times.” —Rick Telander, bestselling author of Heaven is a Playground

Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-01
The story of a basketball journeyman caught up in the civil war in Libya. Born in Nigeria, where he began shooting hoops into a milk crate nailed to a tree at age 6, Owumi came to the United States with his parents at age 11. Though he played solid basketball at Alcorn State, a small black college in Mississippi, Owumi went undrafted in the 2008 NBA draft. Faced with a choice between playing in the NBA minor league or with better-paying overseas teams, he embarked on an adventure that brought him from playing for French, Macedonian and other teams to his 2010 acceptance of an offer to join a Libyan team funded by the family of President Moammar Gadhafi. More than half the book traces the scrappy Owumi's early life (his grandfather was a village chief), his early days bouncing around among community college basketball teams, and his satisfying two seasons at Alcorn State, where he finally learned "the harsh lesson of life after college basketball: You are where you played." Although Paisner (Chasing Perfect: The Will to Win in Basketball and Life, 2013, etc.) foreshadows the coming Libyan crisis nicely, the early pages are overblown and less than exciting. Finally, Owumi arrived in Benghazi, where he lived in a penthouse apartment owned by Gadhafi's son and learned he was expected to play winning ball or be beaten. Play had hardly begun when the violence erupted outside his window. Frightened and without food, water or phone service, Owumi remained trapped in his apartment for two weeks, surviving by eating cockroaches and worms. The scenes of violence outside his door and in the streets are rendered vividly, and readers will cheer his eventual escape to Egypt, where Owumi joined yet another basketball team and won an MVP award. Well-written but with the feel of a magazine article masquerading as a book.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781609615161
Publisher:
Rodale Press, Inc.
Publication date:
10/01/2013
Pages:
296
Sales rank:
670,527
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

ALEX OWUMI moved to the US from Nigeria at the age of 11. Unclaimed in the 2008 NBA draft, he followed his dream of playing basketball overseas. He currently makes his home in Atlanta but will spend the 2012 basketball season in England.

DANIEL PAISNER is the author of over fifty books, including New York Times bestsellers Serena Williams's On the Line and Denzel Washington's A Hand to Guide Me. Paisner lives in Port Washington, NY, with his wife and three children.

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