The cutest story of the NFL draft may come from the mother of Lions first-round draft pick Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, who traveled from her home in Ghana to New York City to be there with her son.
Ansah had never seen a game of American football before he enrolled at BYU, and his mom still doesn’t know much about the sport, other than that her son is good at it. In fact, she didn’t come to America this week with visions of seeing Ezekiel put on an NFL jersey. She came wanting to see him put on his cap and gown as a college graduate.
“I am extremely proud of him for graduating from college,” Elizabeth Cole, Ansah’s mom, told the Deseret News.
She’s less excited that he’s going to Detroit — not that she has anything against the Lions, just that she knows her son thrived in Provo, Utah, at BYU, and she was hoping her son could stick around in a place where he had been made to feel at home as a college student from far away. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Elizabeth asked BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall after the Lions took Ansah if it was still possible that Ezekiel could also be drafted by a team in Utah.
Ziggy had to explain to his mom that it doesn’t quite work that way, but he was just happy to see her, for only the second time since he left Ghana for BYU four years ago.
“I’m so happy that she is here,” Ansah said. “I can’t put it into words. You can’t explain the feeling.”
Asked to describe her son, Elizabeth said that among other positive traits, he’s “always gentle.” As long as he saves that gentle nature for off the field and goes hard after the opposing quarterback on the field, Ansah will be welcomed as warmly in Detroit as he was in Utah.