Efe Obada: ‘I still have to face some of my demons internally, as a man’ | Donald McRae

Nigerian-born British athlete tells of his remarkable rise from bleak arrival in London as a 10-year-old boy to the NFL elite

Whenever he completed a big play during his explosive NFL debut for the Carolina Panthers last September, Efe Obada screamed: “They don’t know me! They don’t know me!” Obada’s story is framed by darkness and sorrow, and has mysterious roots in subjects as tangled as trafficking and London gang culture, but it has light and hope at its heart.

His grinning teammate Mike Adams pointed out that the opposition, the Cincinnati Bengals, didn’t know him because he was from London. Obada laughs now before making a serious point in a small office dominated by a giant photograph of him lost in joy. “I meant they didn’t know how hard I’d had to work, or went through, to reach that moment,” he says. “Emotion poured out of me.”

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