A little over a decade ago, Elhad Emerllahu came to America from worn-torn Kosovo. At the time he was 9 years old with little knowledge of the American culture, English language, and even basketball. Elhad recently received his undergraduate degree from Newman University while playing and being a student assistant coach for the men’s basketball team. Now, he has a coaching position with the women’s team.
After escaping Kosovo, Emerllahu grew up in San Antonio, Texas, where he attended Clark High School. He was a four-year letterman and left the school as the all-time leading scorer in basketball. He then came to Newman and for the last two years of his college career he was offered a full scholarship by Head Men's Basketball Coach Mark Potter.
"When I first got to America, I promised my parents that they would never have to pay for my school," Emerllahu said." All the work I put into it, waking up early, practicing every day, I got a little emotional when Coach Potter offered me that scholarship.”
Emerllahu added how big of a deal it was for him and his family--in the states and Kosovo--to receive his college degree since he is the first in his family to do so.
The opportunities keep opening up for Emerllahu. Recently he was offered to play on the men’s national team in Kosovo, which was recently recognized by the International Basketball Federation. Emerllahu turned down the chance to play internationally, but instead he will be coaching with the Kosovo team.
"I'll be there during this summer, and it will be a great experience for me going back home. I speak the language, and I know the culture, so it'll be fun." he said.
For the first decade of his life he grew up in a harsh, worn-torn country with the potential for a bleak future. Learning a completely new way of life with new opportunities was not easy, but clearly it was rewarding. Emerllahu said he wants to use his experience playing basketball and teaching it to all ages--from kids to professionals -- as helpful experience when entering the business world and finding a career after basketball someday.