By Steve Large

YUBA CITY (CBS13) – The unlikely rise of a former Yuba College student put him in the spotlight of the NBA playoffs.

Festus Ezeli didn’t play basketball until six years ago, in 2007; but now he’s playing at the games highest level.

It’s a stage for superstars with thousands of eyes set on center court, and Yuba City’s Ezeli is standing in the middle of it all.

The 6-foot-10-inch tall rookie was 14 when he moved to Yuba City from Nigeria.

At Yuba College he learned the game by volunteering as the basketball team’s video coordinator.

“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. It seems like a lifetime ago, but it just shows you how much hard work pays off,” said Ezeli.

And his boss has great things to say.

“You know the great thing about Festus is that he doesn’t really know how good he can be or will be, I think. He hasn’t played basketball that long,” Warriors owner Joe Lacob said.

The Ezeli family is following his every move.

“They’re my biggest supporters, my biggest cheerleaders,” said Ezeli.

His teenage brothers watched him play in Sacramento earlier this year.

“It’s crazy because everybody’s rooting for the other team and we’re the only ones in the whole crowd rooting for him. So it’s insane,” Ezeli’s brother said.

Ezeli came to the United States aspiring to be a doctor. He left Yuba College with a 3.9 grade point average.


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