UT Tyler Soccer Player A Former War Refugee - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

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UT Tyler Soccer Player A Former War Refugee

Daniel Kanu has not lived the life of a typical college athlete.

The 20-year-old and his family fled the African country of Sierra Leone 10 years ago during a bloody civil war.

"After the city was attacked, people were scared to go outside," Daniel recalled. "You ate like twice a day, or once a day because the food was scarce and the water."

Daniel and his brother and sister fled to Guinea before coming to the United States through a refugee program. He and his siblings joined his parents in Dallas.

Adjusting to life as an 11-year-old American was tough, especially at school.

"The first three, four, or five weeks I was sitting in class and the teacher was teaching, I did not understand a word she said," Daniel explained.

Daniel's classmates did not understand him. He was physically attacked for being different.

"They didn't understand who I was, or why I was there," he said. "They just knew that I'm African and their thoughts and ideas of Africa is what they saw on the Discovery channel or the Travel channel."

"I always got the questions, 'Have you ever fought a tiger before? Have you ever seen a giraffe? Have you seen lions?' It was tough starting out but after a while, I got used to it."

As a student at Dallas' Skyline High School, Daniel clung to something cherished in his home country: soccer. He was recruited by UT Tyler coach Kenny Jones.

"We just went out to practice and saw him play," Coach Jones said, "and we thought that he could contribute and that he was a good person, a good student."

Daniel says he feels at home at UT Tyler, but misses his native Sierra Leone. When he's homesick, he always has soccer to make him smile.

Daniel and the Patriots host the ASC men's soccer tournament this Friday through Sunday. UT Tyler plays saturday at 11 a.m. Tickets are $5 dollars for adults, $3 dollars for students and seniors. For complete game information visit: http://www.uttyler.edu/athletics/ascsoccer
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