Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 5/19/14
You may or may not be able to tell a man by his tweets, but in Nat Berhe’s case, two he shot off right after he was taken by the Giants in the fifth round of the NFL Draft were revealing. His first was a simple question: “First Eritrean in the NFL?” Not long after, he offered a glimpse into his state of mind: “I’m going to give everything I got to the Giants and everybody who passed on me … I’m coming.” The first post prompted many responses of nationalistic support. “As you can see on Twitter everyone is going crazy,” Nat Berhe told The Post. “I’m happy and proud of where I come from.” Where he comes from is a place that does not produce NFL players. His father, Berhe Asfaha, was born and raised in what is now called Eritrea, a country in the Horn of Africa sitting along the Red Sea, bordered by Sudan in the northwest, Ethiopia in the south and Djibouti in the southeast. The capital city of Asmara has a population of about 650,000. Berhe Asfaha, when he was 20, immigrated to the United States, first to Texas to attend the University of Houston. He met his wife, Judy — a native of Mississippi — and the couple eventually moved to Southern California. “I’ll be the first Ethiopian player to play in the National Football League,” said Berhe (pronounced Bur-HEY). “That’s huge for me and huge for my family and huge for the people in Ethiopia. It’s a big feat. Not a lot of people from East Africa are in the National Football League. I look at it all the same, Ethiopia, Eritrea, it’s all the same, just different name.” A list of the most famous Eritrean athletes contains almost exclusively long-distance runners such as Ali Abdallah, Nebiat Habtemariam and Simret Sultan. Meb Keflezighi last month won the Boston marathon and is an Eritrean refugee who went to UCLA. Thomas Kelati, an American-born basketball player from Washington State of Eritrean heritage, was once with the Lakers in training camp and plays professionally in Europe. Berhe, a California native who has never visited Africa, but plans to do so in the near future, has also posted on Twitter: “Shout out to my Habesha [those residing in the Horn of Africa] people, much love and respect. Will make you proud.”
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