During a week when so many players are exercising their constitutional rights when giant flags are unfurled before ball games, one player held a very small one while doing something just as American.
According to Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post, Washington guard Arie Kouandjio went through a small ceremony with 45 others Tuesday morning at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Frances Perkins building and became an American citizen.
A native of Cameroon, Kouandjio came to this country when he was 6, and has spent most of his life in the Washington area. And while he bemoaned the fact he could not run for president one day, he takes pride in knowing he can at least now help choose the next one.
“Before, all I could do is just watch CNN or just watch Fox or just watch; I wasn’t a participating member in all decisions,”Kouandjio said. “I [still] can’t be the president, which is something that I’ve always wanted to do, but I can do other things, so it’s awesome.”
Kouandjio, who was an Academic All-American at Alabama and has a Master’s degree in applied economics, tried to tread lightly around the current protests. For him, becoming a citizen was a part of a long journey for him and his family, after his parents came to this country to give their children (including his brother Cyrus who plays for the Bills) a better life.
He said he wouldn’t have chosen to protest the way others have, but having studied the Constitution, he’s familiar with the First Amendment.
“Like many people have pointed out, people fought for their rights to do that,” he said . “They have the right to do what they’re doing. I mean, they’re using their platform in a different way, to get their values across. That’s part of what America is.”
And now, officially, Kouandjio is too. Though when you come from another place for opportunity, and make the most of it, you could say that he already was part of the fabric of this country.