Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia Sixers color announcer Alaa Abdelnaby shares his inspiring story

NBC Universal, Inc.

He's one of the voices synonymous with the Philadephia 76ers. He's the outgoing and fun-loving color analyst for the team, Alaa Abdelnaby.

Abdelnaby sits courtside for every game as he describes the action for all who are watching on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

He is Arab and Muslim in an industry where almost no one has his same background.

"When I was young, I used to tell people my name was Al, cause I just wanted to fit in. And Alaa in 73 and 74 was just a little too different for the youngsters. Now the world has changed," he told NBC10.

His story is like many other immigrants who come to the United States looking for a better life. Abdelnaby came to the country from Alexandria, Egypt.

He told NBC10 that he used sports for acceptance, desperately wanting to fit in with others in his school and community.

Sports is also how he first fell in love with the microphone.

"After my baseball, little league baseball games were over, I’d run up to the booth and announce the games. Yeah, and now I remember how ridiculous that is because why would you let a fifth grader in front of the mic?" he joked.

Even though his love for sports continued to grow, his mom and dad had other visions for his future. They saw him as a doctor, but as he stretched out in height to stand tall at 6 feet, Abdelnaby says they slowly allowed him to follow his dreams.

"Growing up, they didn’t come to games. They had two other kids to raise. I don’t think they even wanted to encourage me. If I came then I’m approving of this. So you go to do your thing. And at times, I wanted them there 'cause other parents were there," he explained.

On the court, he excelled and eventually earned a scholarship to Duke University. Eventually, he was drafted in the first round by the Portland Trailblazers in 1990. But still, no matter where he went, he still felt that sense of wanting to belong.

"I think it’s been my underlying desire all my life to fit in. I’m fortunate basketball has been a vehicle that has attracted, for the most part, people to me positively," Abdelnaby said.

He has now found a home and enjoys the responsibility of being one of the few Arab and Muslim voices in the game of basketball.

As they say, success is a beautiful thing, and it's safe to say that his mom and dad agree.

"They don’t miss a game to this day. When at the beginning, I couldn’t get them to one. But they embraced it wholeheartedly," he said.

Abdelnaby is changing minds and perceptions while having no trouble fitting in anymore.

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