Two years after his prolific shooting and trash-talking, jersey-popping, renegade attitude made him one of college basketball’s most electrifying – and polarizing – players, Marshall Henderson now leads a much more humble professional existence. In Baghdad, Iraq, of all places. Henderson plays in the Iraqi Super League. The former Ole Miss star hears gunshots from time to time in the city. He doesn’t leave his Baghdad hotel too often, where working electricity can be a daily challenge. And there are rarely female spectators in the stands at his games.
“It’s not as bad as people make it seem back home,” Henderson told Yahoo Sports in a Skype audio interview last week. “We just chill in the hotel. We don’t go anywhere. We could go places and it would be safe. We wouldn’t be worried about getting captured or anything. It’s definitely better than I would’ve expected.”
“I got a lot of good feedback about being drafted in the second round,” Henderson said. “Then I got in trouble that summer and then it seemed like that was the end of [the NBA interest]. There was really nothing after that. I have to live with that.”
For a while, Henderson couldn’t even get an offer overseas. He was prepared for a backlash, but not to that extent. “There really was nothing out there,” Henderson said. “This is just crazy. “I got close with some people with the church and my family, and they told me I needed to get back to how I was raised and my values and morals with God. I did that, and things started to turn.”
UNICEF Ambassador and National Basketball Association (NBA) star Pau Gasol, returned today to Barcelona, Spain following a visit with Syrian refugees in Iraq. More than 1.7 million people -of which around 50 percent are children- have fled the armed conflict in Syria into neighboring countries, including more than 160,000 in Iraq. “I met children who have fled from a tragic situation in Syria and are now urgently dependent on humanitarian aid,” said Gasol, a two-time NBA Champion with the Los Angeles Lakers. “It is shocking to learn what these children, who have been affected by the conflict in Syria, have experienced. No child should have to endure such violence and destruction, or be deprived of the basic services they need to grow and develop to fulfill their potential.”