From poverty in Africa to an engineering degree at La Tech, Mo Muhammed shares his story

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Mubarak “Mo” Muhammed is navigating through his first year with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.

Mubarak Muhammed said, “I feel like I’ve been able to like find my place on this team as a motor, as an energy guy, and I really love it.”

The junior’s journey to Ruston has been a long one, and it started over six thousand miles away, in Suleja Nigeria.

“Where I grew up in the state that I’m from, I’m from Niger state. There’s was only like three people that played basketball in all that state,” Muhammed said.

Growing up in Suleja, Mo experienced his fair share of hardships, even enduring poverty as a child.

“Oh yeah,” Muhammed said. “It was pretty rough.”

At times, not even having clean water to drink.

“There was one time in school that we didn’t have enough water to drink that we had to go to like the streams,” Muhammed said, “and the water was so bad that we had to like use our shirt as a filter. You had to use the shirt to cover your mouth and drink through it just so your shirt can hold dirt from going inside your mouth, and it was that bad. The water was stinking, but you had to drink it or you’re going to die of thirst.”

Mo also had to spend his early years at a boarding school away from his family.

“You only see your parents once a month, and when you get to see them, you better hope that you get to see your parents that they have some money,” Muhammed said. “So, if they don’t have anything then you haave to go another month without seeing them. So, I remember going like 9-years-old going five months without seeing my parents, and just having to just depend on going to the school dorms and stuff.”

Sports have always been an outlet for Mo, but that hasn’t always been concentrated on basketball.

“I’m a straight soccer guy,” Muhammed said. “If Tech had a soccer team I feel like I could just go on and dominate right now.”

Eventually he found his way to the hardwood, and after a year of playing the sport, was invited to participate in the Basketball Without Borders camp, a venture led by the NBA and FIBA.

“It was just an eye opener,” Muhammed said. “The whole trip I was just, my heart was just beating fast honestly.”

Mo made his mark, earning all-star honors at the camp, and in 2014, was able to use basketball to move to the United States. Let’s just say the experience was eye opening.

“Thinking about it now it was really funny. The first time I saw Wal-Mart I remember I was about to walk in the entrance, and I saw it open by itself, and I was like ‘Woah’,” Muhammed said.”

Mo’s basketball career continued at the JUCO ranks, first at the College of Southern Idaho, and then in Louisiana, at Bossier Parish Community College. That’s where Louisiana Tech head coach Eric Konkol took notice.

“We we’re looking for somebody that could rebound the basketball, play with some versatility, and he does all of those things,” Eric Konkol said.”

Muhammed is now a key member of the Dunkin Dogs, and is on pace to become the first Tech basketball player to earn an engineering degree. As for the overall goal?

“I have plans to one day go back home and have a clinic or an organization that exposes kids to the ideas of like ‘Hey with basketball you can do so much,” Muhammed said. “So, if I can take this opportunity back to them, who knows what that can do for like for my little city or my country.”

Reporting in Ruston, I’m Brad Cesak.

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