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Redskins’ O.J. Atogwe rooted in faith, family, football
Question of the Day
He spent almost two years scraping by on two Canadian dollars per hour, first at two canning factories and then a muffler shop. It took that long to save enough money for Babianna and their infant daughter, Olereh, to travel to Canada.
Aigbomoidi’s fortunes continued their upswing that year when he finally landed the job he coveted at Ford Motor Company. He earned 12 Canadian dollars per hour working in the cylinder block foundry, grinding through 12-hour shifts seven days a week to maximize his income.
“If the opportunity to work was available, I took it,” he said. “Not only did I have to take care of my family here, I had to take care of my brothers back home. Eventually my children would grow up, and I had to work harder because I didn’t want them to go through what I went through.”
The fairy tale ending, however, remained a dream. Aigbomoidi was laid off in 1979. Needing some way to provide for three kids and pay his mortgage, he left the family again, this time to find work in Toronto. For almost three years, he worked as a tractor mechanic during the day and a security guard at night and sent his wages back to Windsor.
While he was away, his wife gave birth to their fourth child.
“I will make your name great”
“O.J.” is just a nickname given to him when he was 8 by a youth football coach who could not pronounce o-SHIM-uh-go.
“As we converse and become more familiar, you can call me O.J.,” he said. “It’s not an insult. But it’s just important for me to know that you know who I am, what my name is and what my name means so you identify with me as a person.”
To know who Oshiomogho is, exactly, is to know his parents’ sacrifice and their values. During his childhood, there were constant reminders of both.
The house telephone frequently rang before sunrise, a call from one of more than 100 relatives back in Nigeria. There were no cousins or grandparents to visit on vacation. They were an ocean away.
Education was paramount. Aigbomoidi would scrutinize the comments on his children’s report cards, emphasizing those more than the actual grades.
“He not only wanted us to be great students, but he wanted us to be great people,” said Imokhai Atogwe, Oshiomogho’s older brother. “He wanted to raise kids that were going to be respectful to their elders.”
“He was very, very hard-working,” Aigbomoidi said. “Everywhere he worked, he always had a good recommendation. In school he was always very serious. In sports, everything he did, he was determined.”
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