Hamilton Southeastern 7-footer embraces opportunity after leaving war-torn South Sudan

FISHERS, Ind. - For Mabor Majak, basketball is more than a sport, it's an opportunity.

"I feel blessed, being gifted with all these people around me. They push to get me to be a better person on the court and off the court," the 7’2” sophomore said.

"His work ethic is tremendous,” Hamilton Southeastern head coach Brian Satterfield explained.” I mean he's in the gym every chance he gets, he gets in the weight room whenever he can because the biggest thing he needs to do, is he needs to get stronger. Once he gets that strength, it's going to be interesting to see what he can do."

Basketball helps his mind escape from the conditions in his war torn home country South Sudan.

"I really adjusted over here, so I don't even think about it much,” Majak said. “I'm just so worked out in basketball that I don't think about anything else."

Mike Fox and his wife, Lisa, had always considered adopting another boy in addition to sons, Dillon and Oscar, when family friend and South Sudanese native Bill Duany sent Lisa this photo of an underweight 14-year-old Majak wearing a tattered Celtics jersey, proudly palming a basketball.

"There was an opportunity there, and she just felt it was the right thing to do,” Fox said. “I think it was just God's plan.”

Mabor bonded with his new brothers quickly over basketball and video games, “I love it here,” Mabor said with a wide smile, and he still maintains contact with his family in South Sudan.

"They just tell me about how school's going for them and how the family is doing and what's going on in the country,” Mabor explained. “It gives me that drive to get better every day.”

Since joining the Fox family in 2015, the Hamilton Southeastern sophomore has packed 60 pounds onto his 7’2” frame. In his first year of varsity basketball, he's averaging just over eight points and five-and-a-half rebounds per game.

"The biggest thing is, he keeps gaining weight and keeps putting in the time and as long as he does that, we'll see where it takes him,” Satterfield said.

While Mabor has his sights set on earning a college scholarship, that's not just to continue his basketball career but to also earn a college degree to eventually go back and help the people of South Sudan.

"It's really weighed heavy over there in South Sudan, if you have a degree you can get respect from everybody,” Mabor said.

"Mabor wants to get into some sort of agriculture later so he can farm and help South Sudan,” Fox added.

And given his unwavering work ethic, there’s no goal too tall.