"I take a lot of pride in being Nigerian" - Brendon Ayanbadejo of Chicago Bears

OUT LOUD: Brendon Ayanbadejo
The Bears new linebacker says hello to Steve Rosenbloom.

Primarily, I hope to make our special-teams unit a better, faster, stronger, more physical unit.

Nah, we're not crazy. We're just hard-hat and lunch-pail kinds of guys. When I know I'm in a dogfight and I know I'm going against a guy who's going to be a tough guy, yeah, I might talk a little bit. When I beat him, I'm going to tell him I beat him.

But I expect to beat everybody.

My full name is Oladale Brendon Ayanbadejo. My first name means "What follows me home." "Brendon" is because I'm half Irish; my brother and I both have Irish middle names. My last name is like a ceremonial type of thing: "The crowning of the king goes hand in hand with drumming." I take a lot of pride in being Nigerian.

It's kind of funny. There are four West Africans on this team, and of the four, three of us are from Nigeria, all from the same tribe.

(NVS Note: The Other West Africans are:  Jerry Azumah, Israel Idonije (Naija) , Adewale Ogunleye (Naija)

My parents actually met in Chicago, so I was born in Chicago. Cook County Hospital. When I was a few weeks old, we moved to Nigeria, which is my dad's native land. We lived there for a few years, and some things happened, and my mom ended up coming back with me and my brother. We lived in the Lathrop Homes project down on Clybourn.

It was hard. It was rough. Growing up on welfare, standing in line to get free food, whether it be cheese or powdered milk, everything in life was tough at an early age. Seeing friends get killed and friends being in gangs. My mom tried to do the best she could do, and eventually it just got so crazy, she ended up moving us to California.

When we left Nigeria, I was maybe 3 or 4 years old. I hadn't seen my dad until I was the age of 20, 21 maybe. He flew in--him and my grandmother--from Nigeria to L.A., and they stayed with me for two weeks my senior year at UCLA. That was an amazing experience. I hadn't seen him since I was a young child, but I still had some of the same mannerisms, had some of the same personality characteristics.

My brother, Femi, plays with the Cardinals now. He's in his eighth, ninth year. We were in Miami together in 2003.We played one season together.

I have a tattoo of an eye on the back of my head. My brother has the same eye on his back, so that's kind of our bonding thing.

I can say hi in about 15 different languages.

My game my senior year against USC, I had four sacks on Carson Palmer, forced a fumble, had like nine tackles in addition to my four sacks. That was the best game I've ever played in my life. I was on fire.

I kind of know Cade's history here, and things didn't really work out here for him. But when I think of Cade McNown, I think of a 20-game win streak, I think of him as being one of the best college quarterbacks at that time, I think of us beating USC eight years in a row, and he had four of those wins under his belt.

Yes, I was a part of it (the handicapped-parking placard scandal on the UCLA football team in 1999). I definitely learned that it was wrong. But at the same time, it was a double-edged sword. The way things worked at UCLA, you're surrounded by Bel-Air, Beverly Hills, Westwood, and parking per quarter was something in the realm of $175 to $200 something. Being a college athlete, I couldn't afford that. The only money I had to live on was scholarship money. So I took a chance and did what all the other players did. It wasn't smart.

But looking back on it, if you do the math, even paying my fine, I still paid less money than if I had paid for all the parking. I think my fine was $1,500. Parking would've ended up being $1,650 or something, so I saved $150.

I did my community service in Chicago, and I did it at the park that I grew up at, Hamlin Park. Just to be around the kids, I think I came away with a greater appreciation of where I came from and being able to get out of situations I was in living in Chicago. It really humbled me.

Everything happens for a reason. The reason I was involved in that parking scheme wasn't to save money. The reason was for me to come back here and be around the kids who grow up in the projects and give them something to look ahead to--not to see their current situation, but possibly see that someone came from where they're from and they could eventually get out of where they are.

Copyright ┬ę 2005, Chicago Tribune

Do you know a Nigerian doing something positive in your neck of the wood? nack us 'tori at articles@nigeriavillagesquare.com

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Guest posted on 10-27-2005, 21:04:42 PM
That\'s it.

Chicago Bears is now my team
Anike posted on 10-27-2005, 22:05:10 PM
keep up the good work.
Guest posted on 10-27-2005, 22:52:55 PM
I wish you become one of the greatest.
I am proud to be a Nigerian, just like you are.
keep it up and stay blessed.

Guest posted on 10-28-2005, 06:42:58 AM
Well done,
I am really impressed by your understaning of your name and the pride you radiate. Hope there will be more Nijas like you unlike the Born and breed in ajegunle types that claim they are not from Nija.

Success all the way brother you will be the best in whatever you choose.
fine piece
Odinaka posted on 10-28-2005, 08:58:35 AM
Good piece, Brendon Ayanbadejo. Keep moving with this attitude.
u know where u From!!super
OBAMEDO. posted on 10-28-2005, 10:05:56 AM
BRAVO,and keep your head up,,With God on your side,our side we shall SUCCEED,GOD-First.AMEN.
charley poker
Guest posted on 10-29-2005, 21:46:38 PM
Omonla...keep it up. I know say Naija get raw talent. You remind me of me. In my time, dem say we must read book, but these days na talent matter. You are in the best environment to nuture your talent. We were not dat lucky.U be correct bobo..God bless.
Forget you!!
Guest posted on 10-29-2005, 23:34:41 PM
Cool you\'re nigerian, and I am too. But as for all that UCLA crap? forget it. USC rules any day. And the chicago bears? hmmm let me think..they SUCK!!!
Guest posted on 10-30-2005, 22:01:34 PM
more grace 2 yur able
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Guest posted on 10-30-2005, 22:20:20 PM
na me again saying more grace 2 yur able ,i just wanna let yu know a little about me.am also a nigeria canadian.i read how yu grew up,believe me we all went through stress.but anyway check me @www.fightnews .com/ca. am a boxer and i just won the north america title in 135lbs light weight. believe me,claimed refugee before i got my residences in canada,but now i am a hero.my boxing name is bazuka.
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