Chukwuzimife “Zimi” James Raymond Nwokeji is not your typical college basketball player. When you meet him, you are met with a larger-than-life smile that can take over a room. Once Zimi starts talking, you realize very quickly that this young, mild-mannered man comes from a strong background. His manners would match that of someone in the royal family. After he warms up a little bit and you start to get to know Zimi, you begin to see what makes him so special. He is driven. Dedicated. Ready. Zimi Nwokeji is blazing a new trail that will set himself up for life.
To get to know Zimi, you have to go back. Way back. Zimi was born on November 1, 2000 in Ann Arbor, Mich.. At the time, his parents Kennedy and Linda had a decision to make. What do we name our baby? Kennedy was pushing for the name Denzel, after the actor Denzel Washington. However, Linda had another plan. She wanted to use the family names. Kennedy is originally from Nigeria. In southwestern Nigeria, the native language is Igbo. In Nigeria, when under British rule, the tradition is that your children have an English first name and the Igbo name is saved for the home. That tradition has carried on to today. So, Kennedy wanted to continue this with an English first name and an Igbo middle name. However, Linda argued that since we are living in a country where English is the first language, they should use the Igbo name for the first name to remind them of their father’s culture. Then, they used the English names for the middle name. After a lot of discussions, Kennedy and Linda agreed to use the Igbo name for the first name and the English name for the middle names. So, Kennedy and his father talked on the phone multiple times over the next couple of months and created the name Chukwuzimife. Chukwuzimife means God has shown me the light. His middle names, James and Raymond, were the names of his two grandpas on his mom’s side of the family. Long story short, mom knew what was best and thus, Zimi’s journey began.