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Meet Nnamdi Ezenwa: The Nigerian-American Valedictorian At Thurgood Marshall Law School Class of 2020

By Brittany Ireland | HBCUBUZZ /, May 18, 2020

Congratulations are in order for Nnamdi Ezenwa. For the first time in 13 years, the highest performing person in the graduating class at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University is a Black man.

In 1978, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, agreed to name formally the “Law School of Texas Southern University,” the “Thurgood Marshall School of Law. (TMSL)”

Each year, the Law School ranks in the top five (5) in the nation in the number of African-American law graduates. In addition, it ranks in the top twenty-five (25) in the number of Mexican-American or Chicano graduates.

This month, TMSL recognizes the next class of leaders, led by Ezenwa. He shares:

“Academics has been important to my family and has been important to me for my entire life. It’s an amazing feeling to be recognized like this. I wanted to get my law degree and be a positive example to others. I wanted to prove it can be done and it an be something anyone can achieve with hard work and a great work ethic.”

Without question, Ezenwa proved his point. Although he leads his class, he was also active on campus, participating in Honor Court and the African Law Student Association. He also found time to be one of the editors for the Thurgood Marshall Law Review.

In high school and college, Ezenwa played basketball, like his father Francis, and had ‘hoop dreams’. He even went on to sign with an agent. When professional basketball didn’t work out, he took another route. Lucky for him (and his future clients), another major plan was in store.

“Continuing my career in basketball didn’t work out and that’s OK,” says Ezenwa. “Sometimes life takes us in another direction and I’d love to stay involved in sports with my law degree and there are multiple possibilities I can do that. I’ll take the Texas bar exam and then we’ll see where I go from there.”

First son of a basketball player

 Ezenwa was a basketball player since the second grade and the first born son of a college basketball player.  Ezenwa’s first name Nnamdi means ‘my father’s first son’ and is a traditional name used by the Igbo people of Nigeria. With such a unique first name it is easy to assume that he would be asked often what his name means.

The Idaho Sports Journal had reported that while growing up in El Paso, Texas, Ezenwa’s father Francis played basketball at the University of Texas El-Paso from 1989-1991, so Nnamdi was always around the game. Being around the game so much sparked a love for basketball that has never left. In fact, it grows stronger everyday.

“I grew up around my dad playing, and I just tried to be around the game and watch it as much as possible,” Ezenwa said. “A was a little too young to go to many of my dad’s games, but growing up I remember hearing a lot of different things about basketball and would always watch it on television. So it has been a big part of me for a long time.”

In elementary school Ezenwa and his friends would get to school early to try and get in a quick game before the bell rang and the school day began. This began a lasting love affair with the game.

 “I think the competitiveness of the game is what got me into it.” Ezenwa said. “I thought it was a fun thing to do.”

 Ezenwa attended Bowie High School in El Paso and in his four years there he was named first team all-district and first team all-city three times.

Congratulations again to Nnamdi Ezenwa and all of his colleagues.

Read from source HBCUBUZZ /

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