Player turns life struggle into triumph

Akini Akini, the star forward for Florida A&M University men’s basketball team, is quickly changing the tides of his past to become a leader not only on the court, but in life.

Change, by definition, is the transformation of a person, place or thing. And for one athlete change is what has defined his life. After his marriage this past summer, Akini legally changed his last name from Adkins to Akini.

Originally from Cameroon, Africa, Akini has distinguished himself here at FAMU and said a summer visit to America when he was a teen, and his adoption helped to change his life.

“They [The Adkins Family] said we adopt kids, if you want us to adopt you, we can help you,” said the star forward “It changed me a lot, and I am definitely a better man than what I could’ve been.” Akini said after he spoke with his mother about the adoption she encouraged him to come because of the opportunity that was provided. It was that opportunity that him the chance to stand out at Leon High School.

“Akini was a real special person here at Leon High,’ said Sam Striplin, Akini’s high school basketball coach. “I saw him grow as someone who was trying to learn to someone who was teaching.” Coach Striplin added that Akini was an outstanding athlete in high school.

“He was the tallest player we ever had,” said the Leon High School in Tallahassee. “He was a big kid that could dribble and shoot.”

But Coach Striplin added that is not the only mark Akini left behind.

“He was very smart, 4.0 student,” Coach Striplin said. “The teachers always ask about him.” He was a good kid that you didn’t have to worry about getting into trouble the coach said.

After beginning his collegiate career at the University of Alabama, Akini transferred due to the lack of playing time.

“It was a quick decision, I didn’t understand you had to wait your turn,” Akini said. However, that decision proved to create a difficulty of its own as the star forward struggled to find himself.

“I was on the verge of quitting, said Akini “That’s why my past two seasons here weren’t good.” It was just things mentally that he was going through that made those two seasons difficult said the FAMU center.

But those tides soon began to change, and Akini began to find his motivation to play again.

“You get heat, that, ok this is my senior season, its either do or die,” said Akini.

In the season opener, Akini led the team with 18 points and 11 rebounds to spark the rattlers to an 86-83 win over Carver College. Coach Eugene Harris seemed proud of the performance.

“Here’s improved a lot since I got here in terms of frustration and mistakes and learning to play through it,” said Coach Harris. Harris added his great work ethic is what has given Akini the ability to perform at such a high level.

“He has great character,” Coach Harris said.