The tallest man in Nigeria, Afeez Oladimeji Agoro has detailed the circumstances that led to him missing out on an opportunity to play professional basketball in the United States.According to Mr Agoro, greed from a number of coaches was the root cause of him missing out on the once-in-a-lifetime chance.
Mr. Agoro, who was more than 6 feet at the time in 1997 said that the handlers of the various youth teams were more concerned about their own welfare rather than the success of the team. An attitude he described as "typically African".
He said he was mostly referred to as Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon, the Nigerian-American former professional basketball player because of his skills on the basketball court. Another unique trait they both shared was their ‘abnormal’ height. Olajuwon was listed at 7 feet 0 inches (213 cm) in his basketball days.
Speaking in a no-holds-barred interview with MyNigeria.com, Mr. Agoro said his talent on the basketball court was second to none and that attracted a number of scouts who became fascinated at how he played the game.
He famously recollected how impressive he was to a U.S scout who was willing to take him to the U.S to ply his trade.
"There was an opportunity for me to go abroad in 1997 when a white man, Mr. Cooper came with his daughter to scout for players," Mr. Agoro told MyNigeria.com.
"At the time, we were about thirty-three (33) that were picked that day at the Lagos Start national stadium back then. At the end of the day, only 4 of us was picked - I was the number one choice because I was very good at Basketball then. After playing the popular two-on-two, at the end of the day, I was the number one pick," he recounted.
Mr. Agoro continued: “But after the game, you know, our African mentality, the coach of the team came out and said that the white man never came to them with a permission of what he was doing so they said he should see them after.”
“...so, we never knew, he collected our data, he took our names and addresses and to my surprise, the man never showed up again. Till now that I am talking to you, we didn't know what happened then, we didn't know what happened after. We don't know what is going on with him now from 1997 till now,” he explained.
He further stated; “We won't know whether the Nigerian coaches gave him other choices to pick or probably they demanded money from him.”
Mr. Agoro became an internet sensation after his height was discovered by a team of French researchers.
He said he only grew tall after it was discovered in a U.S. hospital that he had excessive growth hormones. In his words, "they said I had the hormones of gigantism". He recalled that he was not the tallest when he was in Senior Secondary School (SSS).
At 40, Mr. Agoro currently lives in Lagos with his mother while he pursues a career in modelling and acting.