There are two reasons why May 7, 2017, was a day Kaetochuku (Kay) Okafor will never forget.
The 24-year-old from Nigeria walked across the stage to get his business administration degree from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., and later in the day he was drafted by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.
“It’s the biggest day of my life so far to be honest,” said Okafor.
“To graduate from university and get drafted was amazing. And to have my dad here for it was the best part of everything.”
From Nigeria to Antigonish to Hamilton
Okafor left his home in Enugu, Nigeria, six years ago at the age of 18.
He left behind his mother, father, three sisters and a brother. Spotting his father in the crowd at graduation was the first time Okafor had seen a member of his immediate family since 2011.
“I actually didn’t know if he was going to make it because his flight got cancelled the day before, so we had to get him on a flight to Fredericton instead of Halifax on the morning of my graduation,” said Okafor.
“My cousin actually drove to pick him up and I actually saw him just before I walked across the stage. I saw him taking a picture, it was great.”
Okafor decided to come to Canada at the urging of his cousin, who went to Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.
Cut from basketball team
Okafor’s first stop was in Charlottetown where he was one of the first cuts from the UPEI basketball team. But it wasn’t long before he was coaxed onto the football field to try a sport that was completely foreign to him.
“I had never seen a sport where you had to wear a helmet and pads — it was very different,” said Okafor.
“I had to wrap my head around the…