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For Gorgui Dieng and parents, winning smiles
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On December 29, 2012 @ 10:00 pm In All,Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Adam Himmelsbach, USA TODAY Sports
LOUISVILLE — Momar Dieng sat with his wife, Seynabou Diagne, in their sixth-row seats behind the University of Louisville bench Saturday, and their smiles were indelible.
They smiled when Cardinals fans took pictures with them. They smiled when people handed them bottles of water. And, of course, they smiled as they watched their son Gorgui play college basketball in person for the first time, helping the third-ranked Cardinals to an 80-77 win against Kentucky.
“I am proud of him and his mother is proud of him,” Momar Dieng said through an interpreter. “We are proud of him for everything.”
Gorgui arrived in the USA from Senegal in 2009 and lived with host parents Scott and Lesley Thomas while attending Huntington Prep in West Virginia. He was homesick, and he spoke about his parents often.
He’d returned to Senegal since then, but his parents had never been here to see him play. Last August, Lesley Thomas told Gorgui she wanted to change that. She helped the couple secure passports and visas, even getting letters from U of L to show the Senegalese government that Gorgui was a student in good academic standing.
“Gorgui said this would just be a dream come true,” Thomas said. “His dad has always been his hero. He’s talked about him being such a giving person, someone who would give the shirt off his back to anybody.”
The Thomas family purchased plane tickets and rented an apartment near campus for Dieng’s parents and their interpreter, Assane Badji. They arrived on Christmas Eve, and the unfamiliarly frigid temperatures mostly kept them indoors, bundled up in Louisville sweatpants with the thermostat set to 80.
On Friday night, Lesley brought blankets and Snuggies to Gorgui’s parents, and the two families bonded over steak and pasta. Momar worked to learn some English and can now comfortably say “thank you” and “you’re welcome.”
At the arena on Saturday, Gorgui’s parents stood out in their native attire that was mixed with Cardinals gear. Momar wore a draping white robe along with a U of L knit cap and scarf. Seynabou wore an elegant, flowing purple dress, with a black-and-red … [For more on For Gorgui Dieng and parents, winning smiles, click here.]
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