Every person has a story. The story always begins when you are born. After that moment, each story heads down its own path. Every experience and moment we live helps shape us into the person we are. Eventually, we get to a point where we can be understood by our story. Every single person is important because of one simple fact; they have a story. The human experience can be defined by the simple act of sharing our stories. For redshirt freshman Moulaye Sissoko, the story of his journey is nothing short of awe-inspiring. His story begins in the northwest African country of Mali. So, how does a kid from Mali end up in the Midwest North American city of Dayton, Ohio? For that, we will start way back to when Big Mou (pronounced BIG MOO) wasn’t so big.
Big Mou was born on November 17, 1999 into a big loving family. The son of Hawa Diarra and Mamadou Sissoko, Big Mou was the sixth of their seven kids. As a child in Mali, life was very different. Big Mou described it as “A lot of soccer and other outdoor activities.” As a child, he remembers some of his favorite activities included hunting and fishing. When he and his friends would go hunting, they would use a bow and arrow to hunt lizards, squirrels, birds, and rabbits. In addition to hunting, they would also go fishing. However, as Big Mou remembers, they caught fish a little different. “We would use our hands to catch the fish,” said Big Mou. When they weren’t hunting or fishing, they were probably playing soccer. That was his first love and the sport that he focused on.
As Big Mou was growing up in Mali, his story was beginning to take shape. However, as happens with any child, there were a couple of defining moment moments that really helped guide him in the early stages of his journey. One of those moments came when he was nine years old. As a self-described “very stubborn child” Moulaye was, at some points, a problem child for his parents. It took a special moment with his father, Mamadou, to help set him on the path of good. He remembers specifically his dad telling him, “No matter what, you must remember where you come from.” This moment of enlightenment for Big Mou has stuck with him. It helped reinforce a sense of community that he felt from his home. The community is always there to support and love him. And, in return, he had to do the same.