Wenyen Gabriel’s journey to the Trail Blazers is accompanied by the sacrifices his family made along the way. Earlier this week, The Oregonian’s Jamie Goldberg spoke with Gabriel and his family about the former Kentucky standout’s path to the NBA.
Gabriel, who was born to a family fleeing conflict in what is now South Sudan, arrived in the United States as a refugee. Growing up in New Hampshire, Gabriel’s oldest brother served as a caretaker in a household that relied on two working parents. Komot Gabriel, the oldest of six children, cared for his siblings and undertook a job of his own when he reached his teenage years.
Komot explained to Goldberg that he made those sacrifices with his siblings in mind.
“I wanted my siblings to enjoy their lives,” Komot Gabriel said. “My parents did all that they could to get us to where we were, and we were very fortunate to be where we were. I was just trying to pay it forward to my siblings. Hopefully, they can pay it forward in the future as well.”
Komot’s hard work didn’t go unnoticed by his younger brother. Wenyen discussed his admiration of his older brother with Goldberg.
“That was the type of older brother he was, he was a caretaker for us all,” said Gabriel, 22. “He took care of everything, so I could just focus on my dream. I’m just grateful to him and I’m grateful to my parents — my mom, my dad — because they did everything to get me here. I didn’t do anything to get to America. That’s an opportunity that my parents and God gave to me. I’m grateful for that and I want to be in a position to give that to another person, just that opportunity.”
Outside of honoring the hard work of his family, Wenyen went on to explain that he wants to inspire others.
“I have a huge pool of people that I can inspire and that gives me motivation, inspiration, it gives me meaning behind what I do,” Gabriel said. “It makes it easier for me to wake up every day and go to the gym, knowing that I’m not only doing it for myself, but knowing that everything that I do is an example for the next kid to come up. … I have great examples in Luol Deng and Manute Bol, who came before me, and we have a few other players in the league right now, we got a nice community out here. I want to bring us all together because I know as a country, South Sudan, we have so much potential.”
On the court, Gabriel has appeared in seven games for the Blazers. He is currently averaging 8.1 minutes and 2.0 points per game.
You can read the full post from Goldberg at The Oregonian.