Abodunrin Gabriel “Gabe” Olaseni is a British professional basketball player for s.Oliver Würzburg of the Basketball Bundesliga. He also plays for the Great Britain men’s national basketball team.
His parents met at a university in the United Kingdom, each a continent away from their homeland. Benson Olaseni came from Lagos, Nigeria and became an East London architect and city planner. Yvette Ivanna (now Olaseni) moved to London from Georgetown, Guyana and joined the teaching ranks.
Abodunrin Gabriel Olaseni was born Dec. 29, 1991, as his parents’ third child. His first name is Nigerian — as with his three siblings — and means “born during the holidays” because it’s a happy time. The “n” is silent. The name is so difficult to pronounce that here, in the heart of the Midwest, he’s known as Gabe.
“Everyone else calls me that (Abodunrin) except when I’m here,” Olaseni said. “I’m still very in touch with my heritage. My parents made sure that I knew where I came from. I’m definitely happy I grew up in London. I feel as though all those experiences have shaped me into the person I am today. I’m grateful I do have such a rich heritage.”
Olaseni, a 6-foot-10 senior, is a deep thinker, a scholar and, at times, a comedian. He used Internet search engines to learn about basketball history and its impact on the Civil Rights Movement. He became interested in the NBA by watching highlights, such as Kobe Bryant’s 81-point game.
“I just tried to immerse myself in it as much as I could to try to learn as much as possible,” Olaseni said. “Obviously I’m still learning now.”