Nigerian teen soccer star murdered on South Side

April 29, 2011 7:21:13 PM PDT
Family and friends are in mourning after a young soccer player from Nigeria was shot and killed in Chicago. He was a sophomore at Amundsen High School who hoped soccer would help him achieve the American dream.

Kabiru Adewunmi, 16, was built for soccer. Adewunmi's winning smile was a window into his personality, bright, engaging, well organized and humble, traits he was applying on the soccer pitch as a walk-on standout for the Chicago Fire Juniors, as well as in school, determined to make good on his chance at the American Dream.

"Kabiru was a fantastic kid. He was the type of kid every coach would like to have on the team. He was a great kid on and off the field," said Chicago Fire Juniors North Coach Sole Antonijevic.

Adewunmi was gunned down this week in a shooting the Chicago Police Department says may have been gang-related. Adewunmi had just moved to the South Side a few months ago with four of his teammates -- all young soccer players from Nigeria -- and was commuting two hours every day to Amundsen on the North Side, and tacking on soccer practice in Highland Park three times per week.

Those who knew him said Adewunmi was determined to be on the right side of the line of success .

"We played showcase tournaments?and every time Kabiru and his teammates stepped on the field there were 15 or 20 college coaches watching the game," Antonijevic said.

Adewunmi had just watched the Chicago Bulls win their playoff game on Tuesday night then headed out to a convenience store on the 800-block of E. 82nd Street with his teammates/roommates.

The surviving boys told their coach that someone came up to them, and asked, "Are you the Nigerian soccer players?" Moments later someone else walked up to them firing.

"He worked very hard. He was in absolutely no trouble?for that opportunity to be taken away from him for no reason, it's not fair," said Chicago Fire Juniors North Manager Mimi Antonijevic.

Police have made no arrests in the case. A funeral will be held Saturday.