The basketball world pays tribute to Ademola Okulaja today

BERLIN, GERMANY – AUGUST 31: Laenderspiel 2003, Berlin; Deutschland – Italian (GER – ITA); Ademola OKULAJA/GER, Dirk NOWITZKI/GER (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)

German basketball legend Ademola Okulaja has died aged 46. The cause of death is unknown, but he had been battling cancer on and off since he was first diagnosed in 2008.

BIG, a German basketball store, was the first to report the news.

Okulaja played a total of 172 international matches for the German national team from 1995 to 2007. He served as team captain for several of those years.

In addition to his international basketball success, Okulaja was also a standout forward for the University of North Carolina. He played four seasons at Chapel Hill (1995-99), alongside fellow Tar Heel legends Vince Carter and Antwan Jamison.

Okulaja appeared on the “Carolina Insider” podcast last weekend.

The basketball world took to Twitter to pay tribute to Okulaja on Tuesday.

“My heart is breaking right now. Huge loss for the #CarolinaFamily Ademola Okulaja was a great teammate and brother to all of us. #F—Cancer,” former UNC star Scott Williams wrote.

Okulaja was diagnosed with a spinal tumor just before the 2008 Olympics. He was eventually able to return to professional basketball, but retired in 2010.

After retiring from basketball, Okulaja launched his career as a German basketball sports agent and broadcaster. He was the father of two sons.

Our thoughts are with the Okulaja family through this difficult time.

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