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Kicks for Kids

Young Nigerians check out the sneakers Ikenna Smart shipped in from overseas.

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Ikenna Smart's journey to UB.

For kids who play basketball in Nigeria, resources—especially sneakers—are scarce. Ikenna Smart knows this well. “I was once like them, just a kid chasing a dream of playing basketball,” says the Bulls junior forward, who came to the U.S. from Umuahia, in southeastern Nigeria, in 2011. To give back, Smart collected the sneakers he and his teammates no longer needed. Over the summer, Smart, with the help of UB Athletics backer and KegWorks CEO Tom McManus (PMBA ’06), shipped four boxes—80 pairs in all. Smart’s host family from North Carolina, where he attended high school, flew him to Nigeria so he could distribute the shoes to kids at a playground in his hometown. “I’m hoping to play overseas after college so I can make some money to get more sneakers for them,” Smart says.