Thursday, 12 December 2013
Nigerian National Basketball Player, Chinedu Onyeuku, Killed In Texas Under Mysterious Circumstances
Police are searching for motive in the early morning shooting of acclaimed basketball star Chinedu Onyeuku who police said had been seen breaking and entering an apartment in the Texas town of Plano.
According to local police, the owner of the Rio Grande Drive apartment said he saw two men on his patio at about 3 a.m. A glass door was smashed and the resident pulled out a shotgun and blasted the two men. Onyeuku, age 29, was killed at the scene but the man managed to escape.
Initial reports said the two men had been attempting to burglarize the apartment.
Onyeuku had recently accepted a spot on an Iraqi team. His agent, Adam Prossin, spoke to him the day before the shooting to discuss details of his new assignment. Onyeuku was supposed to leave Texas a few days later.
Prossin called the case “shocking” in relation to the soft-spoken, down-to-earth ballplayer he knew.
“I know Nedu as being a pretty-straight-laced nice guy,” Prossin said.
“We believe this is more than just 'an unknown subject breaks into your residence to commit a burglary,'” Police spokesman David Tilley said, but he declined to elaborate.
Texas, unlike Nebraska, has a “castle doctrine” law, which gives people some latitude to use deadly force against intruders in their homes.
Onyeuku aimed to play in the National Basketball Association. He was living in the Dallas area to try to get into the NBA Development League there, hoping that would lead to an NBA spot.
Onyeuku previously played for German and Libyan teams and the national team in Nigeria.
Prossin said Onyeuku was a talented player. “He would surprise guys with this athleticism and his leaping ability, as well as his ability to just shoot the lights out.”
Onyeuku was playing for the Libyan team in 2011 when the civil war began, Prossin said. The team was based in a relatively safe area but eventually left for Egypt. Onyeuku joined the Nigerian team later that year for the African Championships, where it took third place.
The Nigeria Basketball Federation released a statement saying Onyeuku's friends and teammates will miss him.
“Nedu's passion for playing ... was deep-seated and he will be greatly missed,” it said. “The federation joins his family and teammates to mourn a departed son, father, husband and great patriot.”
Onyeuku is survived by his two sons, Isaiah Jeremiah Onyeuku and Chinedu Jeremiah Onyeuku Jr.; their mother; his companion, Tiaira Erwin; his parents, Josephine and Saul Onyeuku; and two sisters, Kelechi Onyeuku and Ozioma Onyeuku.
Prossin said Nedu Onyeuku was proud of his sons and would often post videos of their football games on Facebook. Once, he even skipped the first part of a tryout to watch one of his sons play football.
“He made the decision that it was more important to go to his son's football game,” Prossin said.
A wake for Onyeuku will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at Omaha's Fort Street Church of Christ, 5922 Fort St. A visitation at the church will start at 10 a.m. Saturday, followed by services at 1 p.m.
Plano police asked anyone with information on the Onyeuku case to call Crime Stoppers at 877-373-8477. Tipsters could be eligible for an award of up to $5,000.