After sitting out all of last season at Missouri State due to a serious injury, men’s basketball graduate student Ron Mvouika produced a solid nine points and four rebounds off the bench in his first game in a St. John’s uniform.
But, the joy of success and victory snapped into fear when the Paris native received the news that his home city was attacked by the ISIS terrorist group, killing as many as 140 innocent citizens and injuring many more.
“My phone was blowing up,” Mvouika said. “The coaches told me in the locker room that something happened in Paris so I had a lot of phone calls and I had to call my mom, brothers and call everybody in the neighborhood to see if everybody was ok.
“Thank god none of my close friends were out but like I said before we live in a crazy world. You just have to keep your faith up and send your prayers up.”
Mvouika’s family lives about 20 to 25 minutes away from the French soccer stadium, Stade de France, which was hosting a Germany versus France friendly that Friday night (Nov. 13). A bomber tried to sneak into the stadium, but was turned away by security before detonating his explosive belt, sending a shock wave throughout the stadium. Shootings also broke out at four separate restaurants and security later raided a mass shooting and a hostage situation at the Bataclan theatre.
“I know some people who lost some friends,” Mvouika said. “It’s always hard, especially with social media. There’s videos always showing up and you actually see people getting hit. It touches home when you realize it’s the places you go when you’re back home.”
The 6’6” forward has given the Johnnies a jolt of toughness, energy and passion that cannot be replicated, and his leadership during difficult times has stood out in the locker room. Looking to improve to 2-0 under Chris Mullin, the team defeated UMBC by 22 just two days following the devastating night.
“You say your prayers,” Mvouika said. “God does everything for a reason. I try to never get too high or never get to low. Keep pushing. I had a game to play. I followed the game plan, but I’m one of the older guys so I can’t come out here with my head down.
“My job is to lead regardless of what’s going on. I have to come to work every day and do what I’m supposed to do.”
Mvouika, who is currently the second leading scorer and most efficient player on the roster, even decided to honor his hometown by dedicating the first two games of the season to the victims.
“I definitely had everyone in my prayers (tonight),” Mvouika said at his press conference after the UMBC win. “I’m going to dedicate that win to them.”