HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Former Rainbow Warrior basketball and football player, Nkeruwem “Tony” Akpan lost his home in Ashland, Oregon on Tuesday due to the Almeda fire that has spread through most of Southern Oregon — displacing countless families.
“It doesn’t give up, you fight and it fights you back.” Akpan told NBC news. “It’s a force, it doesn’t stop. Once it’s there, it’s going to cause damage and he’s going to do it.”
This was the result of the record wildfires that continue to decimate the west coast and pacific northwest of the United States — with 30,000 people evacuated in Oregon alone.
The former 'Bow tried to put out the blaze with buckets of water, in a desperate attempt to protect the life that he built in his Oregon home, while Akpan’s Wife Robin, also a UH alumni, his mother and children waited and prayed that he made it out alive.
As the fire continued to race towards the Akpan residence and multiple attempts by fire helicopters could not get the water to put out the flame, the basketball standout had to leave behind his house and livelihood.
“When I saw a replay of my life.” Akpan said. “At that point, the heat and fire came at me, I got burnt lips, at that point I replayed my life, from when I was a youth to that present time, and I just knew I lost it.”
The Akpan family built their home from the ground up, while also building up a successful organic wheat grass company — with customers like Jamba Juice and Safeway calling to ask if they can help in any way.
“It’s hard because our house burned down and then we came back and the business was burned down.” Robin Akpan said.
Strong in their faith, the Akpan family are determined to rebuild and reclaim the american dream that the Nigirian native sought out when he moved to the United States.
“I moved to this country with a dream of living the American dream and I started that dream with my wife from college and we worked hard knowing what we wanted and when we moved here, the plan was to get a piece of land.” Akpan said. “I still believe in my American dream and I’m not going to let that go away.”
While at College in Manoa, Akpan was a standout on the basketball team where he averaged 5.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game while wearing the 'H' on the hardtop, while on the gridiron the first time defensive lineman saw game time action during the 2003 and 2004 season.
A GoFundMe was created in order to help the Akpan family, as they begin to recuperate from the devastating fire and rebuild their American dream.
Fire Ravaged Family Needs Our Help: