WBEZ Sports Contributor Cheryl Raye Stout has covered the Bulls for years at the Berto Center. She has developed relationships with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Bill Cartwright, and the newer Bulls like Luol Deng.
Deng is the starting small forward for the Chicago Bulls. He’s been with the team since the 2004 draft and has been in the league for seven seasons, despite being the chiseled age of 25. Deng has had moderate success with the Bulls, but far too many seasons have ended in injury. His name is thrown out annually as trade-bait, and it would be a stretch to say he’s a fan favorite at the United Center. But you would be hard-pressed to find game highlights that didn’t include a play from Luol Deng.
But beyond basketball, Deng has quite a story. He was born in the Sudan. At the age of 5, Deng and his family fled to Egypt during a civil war. While growing up in Egypt, Deng and his brother Ajou were mentored by fellow Sudanese and former NBA player Manute Bol. As Deng grew older, he played basketball in England and attended high school in New Jersey. He spent a year at Duke University and was drafted in the first round by the Phoenix Suns, who on draft-day, traded him to Chicago.
Deng had never returned to the Sudan. That was, until this summer. After a recent practice, Cheryl caught up with Deng to talk to him about his trip and the emotions of returning to his homeland.
This is a nice interview by Cheryl - it’s nice to hear athletes talk candidly about their passions and lives outside of basketball.