DeMario Mayfield is Iraq’s new basketball star. And he’s American.

November 18, 2017 - Basketballs

A Georgia-born former college basketball actor has turn an Iraqi citizen so he can play for a country’s inhabitant team.

DeMario Mayfield altered to Baghdad seeking emancipation twin years ago after his hoop dreams were left in rags by a run-in with a law.

Image: DeMario Mayfield


Image: DeMario Mayfield

The twin inhabitant says he now earns a six-figure income personification veteran basketball in Iraq, revelation it was “mind-boggling” to cruise how many his life had altered given withdrawal a U.S.

“Before we came to Baghdad, we didn’t know what to expect,” he told NBC News. “I had usually all bad expectations. Then we got here and I’ve met some of a many genuine and nicest people that I’ve ever met.”

He added: “It was an eye-opener for me to never decider when you’ve never gifted anything in their culture.”

Husein Al-Amdey, a authority of a Iraqi Basketball Federation, was anxious that Mayfield had perceived Iraqi citizenship. He described a 6-foot-5 brazen as “one of a best basketball players in a region.”

Al-Amdey pronounced he believes Mayfield “is going to be of a good assistance for a Iraqi team,” that is now ranked 85 out of 149 teams by FIBA, a International Basketball Federation.

Mayfield, who was not comparison in a 2015 NBA draft, says it’s a large shortcoming to lift on a Iraqi inhabitant team’s jersey.

“Everyone looks during a American as a favourite here,” he said. “I really have to lead these guys to play their best. And we also contingency play my best to put us in a position to be successful.”

Mayfield played for 3 colleges in a U.S. — a University of North Carolina during Charlotte, a University of Georgia and Angelo State University in Texas.

But in May 2013, he was charged with swindling to dedicate armed spoliation in Georgia.

He supposed a defence understanding and served 10 and a half months in a diversion center, that he described as like a “jail/work camp.” He afterwards served another year on probation.

“That’s since we had to come to Iraq,” Mayfield pronounced when asked about a charge. “To build my name behind up, build my resume behind up, since that was a vital blow to my career.”



Now aged 26, Mayfield pronounced many tip agents wouldn’t work with him and a occurrence prevented him for personification professionally in Europe or China.

“I will perpetually be fighting that, though we have no problem with stability to infer myself,” Mayfield said. “And display that one mistake doesn’t conclude a person.”

Mayfield pronounced a memory of prolonged nights alone in a jail dungeon continue to motivate him to strech his ultimate goal: to contest during a top turn of basketball possible.

In Oct 2015, he altered to Baghdad and sealed with Oil Club, one of 12 teams in a Iraqi league.

Each group is available to have twin unfamiliar players as partial of a league’s plan to urge a turn of competition.

Image: DeMario Mayfield


Image: DeMario Mayfield

Basketball is still gaining recognition in Iraq and tickets are giveaway to inspire attendance. The crowds can change from a few hundred to a few thousand, noise-makers and all.

In further to a salary, Mayfield pronounced Oil Club provides accommodation in a executive Baghdad hotel, dishes prepared by a hotel’s cook and a motorist to get around town.

Mayfield averaged around 29 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists per diversion and led Oil Club to a initial championship final season.

His clever performances non-stop a eyes of sports officials and Mayfield was invited to join a inhabitant team. However, there was one vital condition: He indispensable to turn an Iraqi citizen.

Mayfield pronounced he discussed a thought of adopting twin nationality during length with his wife, who lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with their 6-year-old son. Ultimately, they motionless he should go for it.

With a inhabitant team’s support for his application, Mayfield was postulated Iraqi citizenship and perceived his new pass a few weeks ago.

He is a usually Iraqi-American twin citizen to play on a country’s inhabitant team.

And notwithstanding a fact that he misses being divided from his mother and son, he’s beholden for a second possibility he’s been given in Baghdad.

“The people here have treated me great,” Mayfield said. “I don’t have any regrets about entrance to Iraq.”

He hopes to get to a indicate in his career where he can pierce his mother and son closer to him, if not to Iraq, afterwards to Turkey or Dubai.

In a meantime, being a internal luminary helps him get by.

When Mayfield is on a court, he pronounced all he hears is chants of “Dee, Dee, Dee, a whole time.”

And when he walks a streets of Baghdad, he pronounced he’s mostly greeted by kids vocalization Arabic seeking if they can take a design with him.

Image: DeMario Mayfield


Image: DeMario Mayfield

He pronounced Baghdad is “definitely not as bad as everybody thinks it is” and that he feels “totally safe.”

Mayfield has also found friends among his Iraqi teammates. Some have welcomed him into their homes for family meals. “I cruise some of these guys like my brothers,” he said.

Eager to try all of a internal delicacies, Mayfield pronounced he “absolutely loves” baklava, a dessert traditionally done of smoke fritter and nuts.

He also spends hours unresolved out during a famous Iraqi honeyed emporium nearby his hotel celebration tea and chatting with a shopkeepers.

Mayfield’s on-court colleagues are tender with how he’s digested and are anxious that he’s pity his skills.

Related: Inside Baghdad’s Basketball Bubble

“He is opposite from other unfamiliar players in a approach of being desired by his teammates and a fans as well,” pronounced Ali Abdullah, 31, who plays with Mayfield on Oil Club and a inhabitant team.

Mayfield is approaching to enclose a Iraqi jersey for his initial central general diversion in a World Cup qualifier opposite Iran on Nov. 24.

Mohammed Dhia, 37, who plays in a Iraqi joining for a Electricity team, pronounced Mayfield is a good further to a inhabitant squad.

“Our group is badly in need of actor like him,” Dhia added. “The Iraqi group needs someone to lead a team, and a personality is DeMario.”

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