March 9, 2020, published on

Onyeka Okongwu walks into USC’s locker room and finds his cubby in the far corner. He touches the band around his wrist, black with green letters—NNAMDI OKONGWU #21, WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU—and kisses it. He takes a seat, clasps his hands, shuts his eyes and begins to pray.

In these moments, Nnamdi, his older brother is there. With him. In his chair, in his locker. On the whiteboard, on the door. Inside his sneakers, inside his jersey. Onyeka can feel it. Feel him.

Nnamdi died in 2014 after suffering a brain injury from a skateboarding accident. He was 17 years old, a promising basketball player himself.

“I think about him every day,” says Onyeka, now 19. Some days he wants to talk about it. Some days he doesn’t. For him, grief isn’t something to get over, to go through. It is constant—both motivating and devastating. But when he is playing basketball, Onyeka feels like he can connect with Nnamdi. Speak to him. Learn from him. (READ FULL STORY HERE).