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06 Mar

He was, however, an excellent shot blocker, an invaluable resource for any team, preventing the other team from scoring and doing it with a minimum of fouls.

Okafor was also tall—by the time he reached his senior year, he stood six feet, nine inches. He began an impressive weight-training regimen and put twenty pounds on his frame in just six months. Okafor continued to earn nearly straight-A grades at Bellaire.

A small part of the country had seceded (officially withdrawn) and declared itself independent of Nigeria in 1967, and the newly created republic was called Biafra.

The family of Okafor's father wound up in a Biafran refugee camp, where they lived for more than two years.

He was also a skilled young athlete, playing soccer and baseball, running track and field events, and swimming competitively.

On a playground court near their home, he sharpened his basketball skills with Nneka, who became tired and wanted to go home long before he did.

Emeka Okafor ended his first season with the Charlotte Bobcats, the North Carolina team of the National Basketball Association (NBA), as winner of the league's 2004–05 Rookie of the Year award.

A standout athlete during his college career as a center for the University of Connecticut (UConn) Huskies, Okafor was the NBA's second draft pick in 2004.

But Okafor was overlooked by college recruiters because he did not have a solid offense style of play at the time.He joined his first basketball team as a sixth-grader.At Houston's Bellaire High School, which attracted some of the city's top students, he played on a freshman squad that won the city championship.Pius managed to survive until the end of the war in 1970, which also marked the end of an independent Biafra.Four years later, he immigrated to the United States, where one of his cousins had already settled.