I'm still getting used to being famous.

A year ago not many people knew who I was, but in a span of three days last spring, all of that changed. First there was the buzzer beater to eliminate UConn in the Final Four, and then there was the buzzer beater against Mississippi State to win the National Championship. Now whenever I'm around campus and people see me, they start to smile from ear to ear. It's still funny to see people light up when they run into me.

In many ways those two shots have changed my life, but in other ways they haven't changed me at all. I'm still Arike.

I think the reason I haven't changed is because I know that I can't take too much credit for what happened last season.

First, I have to give credit to my parents. They were the ones who taught me the value of education and introduced me to God. My mom grew up in Rockford, Illinois, and met my dad, who had immigrated from Nigeria to attend college. They encouraged me to attend a Christian school, and as an 8th grader I was confirmed in the faith.

Even at that age, I loved the verse Jeremiah 29:11, which says “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘Plans for you to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ”

It really explains everybody's life - no matter what you're going through, there's a path that God has for you. God knows what's going to happen and it's going to be okay in the end.

 
 

(Photo courtesy of Notre Dame Athletics)

Second, I have to give credit to my brother, Dare. If there was ever an example in my life of someone living out that Bible verse, it was him. He had no Division 1 scholarship offers coming out of high school, but he walked on at Wisconsin and became a star running back for the Badgers. Instead of being jealous of me as I got all the attention and accolades when we were younger, he was encouraging me. I speak with him all the time - before games and after games - and I still remember being in the hotel room talking with my family before the National Championship game.

I'm glad I did, because before I enjoyed the greatest moment of my career, it felt like I was having the worst.

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(Title photo courtesy of Notre Dame Athletics)

Thomas Hager