Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Frenchman Ron Mvouika of St. John’s Dedicates Win to Paris Victims
NEW YORK – St. John’s forward Ron Mvouika had much more than just basketball on his mind this weekend as the Red Storm prepared for a Monday tilt with UMBC.
Born and raised in France, Mvouika spent most of the last few days checking in with family and friends in Paris, confirming they were all safe after a stunning series of ISIS terrorist attacks in the heart of the French city left 129 dead and hundreds more wounded on Friday.
“Everybody’s OK,” Mvouika said after scoring 16 points in Monday’s 75-53 win over UMBC. “One of the explosions happened about 20 minutes away from where I’m from. I know some people that lost a lot of people.
“It touches home when you see those are the kind of places that I go when I’m back home,” he added, referring to the Parisian restaurants, cafes and concert hall that were attacked by automatic weapon-wielding suicide bombers. “I definitely had [the victims] in my prayers. I’m going to dedicate that win to them.”
The swingman also wrote “Pray for the Middle East” and “Pray for the world” on his cleats in the wake of not only the attacks in Paris but the recent terrorist bombings in Lebanon and Baghdad that each left dozens dead and scores more wounded.
Mvouika said he was informed of the tragedy by the St. John’s coaching staff Friday afternoon and he immediately checked in with his family and friends still living in Paris.
“My phone was blowing up,” he said. “I had a lot of phone calls. I had to call my mom first, call my brothers, call everybody in the neighborhood to make sure everybody was OK. Thank God no close friends of mine got hit, but we live in a crazy world. You’ve got to keep your faith up, send your prayers up.”
The Frenchman appeared to be playing with extra energy on Monday, especially in the second half. He connected on all four of his three-point attempts to go along with four rebounds and three assists, and his three from the right corner with 8:48 remaining gave the Red Storm a 52-40 advantage, their biggest lead of the game to that point.
After nailing the shot, the graduate student screamed and flexed in the direction of the crowd as he strutted toward the St. John’s bench after a UMBC timeout.
“God does everything for a reason,” Mvouika said. “I can’t come out here with my head down. Regardless of what’s going on, I’ve got to come to work every day and do what I’m supposed to do.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.