Nigerian Evelyn Akhator, regarded as one of the D’Tigress’ best performers in their gold-winning expedition at the FIBA Women’s 2017 Afrobasket Championship in Mali, has a strong drive and always keep a positive look to life.
Evelyn Akhator is just “unbelievably positive all of the time,” said her former coach Adeniyi Amadou. “You spend enough time around her and she teaches you a lot because she’s lost her mother — the closest person in her life — and just makes a choice every day to just be positive.”
D’Tigress player, Evelyn Akhator is a professional women’s basketball forward/center. She was drafted by the Dallas Wings of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) as the 3rd overall pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft. She plays for the Turkish side Besiktas.
Few weeks before she turned 18 years old, excited to embark on her new adventure, as she had plans to move to the United States and follow her dream of playing basketball for a Division I school, which could help change not only her life but also those of her five siblings and parents. Akhator received very bad news that her mother had died. It was supposed to be a huge year for her.
Akhator said “When she passed away, I almost quit everything, I almost quit basketball and school. She was my inspiration; she really inspired me. So when she passed away, I just thought everything has ended.”
Deadlines passed for exams that would have brought her to the United States to play basketball. She stopped caring, stopped practicing the game she had grown to love just a couple of years before.
Akhator said her high school coach and her pastor helped her back as they urged her to play again for her mom, who had encouraged her to play when others had discouraged it. “They told me to never forget about who I was or who I am, That really brought me back. I just had to accept everything.”
A few months later, Akhator found a place on a junior-college team, she became the most valuable player and was named the national junior college player of the year.
In 2016, Colleges all over the country, including Texas, Tennessee, and Florida State, were courting the 6-foot-3 forward with the jaw-dropping athleticism, but Evelyn Akhator became a starting forward for the Wildcats, the University of Kentucky, a team where she had fun and was loved by all.
Amadou, her position coach, said she is just “unbelievably positive all of the time. If she’s in pain or has something going on, you have to dig deep to find it,” She was third on the team in scoring and is averaging 11.6 points and 9.4 rebounds a game.
It’s eye-opening for many of her teammates. When things get difficult, “she will tell them, ‘Listen, we don’t have anything to complain about right now…”
Evelyn Akhator won people over with her attitude and her work ethic no matter the circumstances.