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In mother’s honor, Alex Okafor vows “legitimate effort to end racism”

In a Kansas City Star article, the Chiefs defensive end recalls his mother’s influence — and how she inspires him to action.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, the Kansas City Star published an article written by Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Alex Okafor — an emotional tribute to his mother Sonia Okafor, who recently died from acute myeloid leukemia at the age of 59. Like so many other families who have suffered such a loss during the coronavirus pandemic, Okafor and the rest of the family were unable to visit her while hospitalized during her final days.

Entitled “America needs you, Mom,” the article provides an encapsulation of his mother’s life and her influence on Okafor while she worked as a probation officer and then for a nonprofit organization, helping to find housing for underprivileged families.

Okafor related how his mother’s death was followed by other tragedies.

Soon after, so were three more African-Americans: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. At this point, I’m about to melt down. The pain from my mother’s death is sitting heavily on me, not to mention the rage that has taken over me since these slaughterings. I’m overwhelmed with so many emotions; all I wanted to do is crawl into a cave and hide while the rest of the world burns down.

Then I thought to myself, “What would Mom have done?”

Okafor said that his mother’s death has galvanized him to action.

After Mom passed away, I vowed that I’ll stop at nothing to make her proud. I’ll be the best man I can be while honoring her to the fullest. The first big step is making a legitimate effort to end racism in this country. As much as I wanted to cut off all news networks and social-media outlets so that I could mourn in peace, I know this is not what Mom would have wanted. Because of her, I’m writing this article. Because of her, I want to have this uncomfortable conversation about racism and inequality.

Okafor’s remembrance is heartfelt, often touching and sometimes funny — but above all else, worth your time. Read it all here.

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