Former Super Eagles’ assistant coach, Joe Erico’s basketball-playing son, Michael Eric has come out with a highly emotional reaction to the death of his father, and confessed that he is indeed deeply devastated with the development, megasportsarena.com reports.
Born June 24, 1988 in Lagos, Michael Oluwaseun Eric, who currently plays for Türk Telekom of Turkey in the Turkish Basketball Super Lig (BSL) and is a member of Nigeria’s senior men’s basketball national team, D’Tigers, admitted that he is already missing the late Erico, who passed to the great beyond on Thursday.
Fondly called ‘The Jogo Bonito Exponent,’ Erico was the first choice keeper in Nigeria’s bronze-winning Green Eagles’ squad at Ethiopia 1976 Africa Cup of Nation and later on a member of the technical crew that also placed third at the 2002 edition in Mali.
In the wake of the highly-respected tactician’s death, his son has now revealed that the late Erico was more than a father to him and encouraged him to play basketball despite being a football coach, but he preferred to focus on his education as a teenager.
He, however, took active interest in basketball when he grew five inches in a span of two years and traveled to Delaware, USA in 2004 to visit his brother, Stephen, who stopped him from returning to Nigeria.
Stephen knew his younger brother’s height of 6-foot-8 at the time could help him get a glorious future for himself in basketball and Michael soon started keen interest in the sport after he enrolled at Caesar Rodney High School in Camden, Delaware, where he spent his sophomore year before transferring to Church Farm School in Exton, Pennsylvania for his junior year.
Eric then played school basketball for two seasons at Church Farm, with which he earned first-team all-league and all-area accolades as a junior in 2005/6, during which he averaged 16 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocks per game.
His breakthrough soared when he signed a National Letter of Intent to play college basketball for Temple University in November 2006 and, while playing as a senior in the 2006/7, the new rave averaged 19 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks per game while leading Church Farm to win the KASC regular season championship.
However, he was ruled ineligible to compete during the 2007/8 campaign due to NCAA initial eligibility guidelines, thereby forcing him to redshirt the season and he went on to join Temple Owls in 2008/9, during which he averaged 2.7 points and 2.1 rebounds in 27 games.
As a sophomore in 2009/10, Eric played in 31 games, of which 29 were starts, and he finished fifth on the team in scoring with 5.9 points per game, while his 20 blocks and .516 field goal per centage ranked second on the team.
He also averaged 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in just 15.7 minutes per game and was named the team co-captain as a junior in 2010/11, during which he started the first 24 games of before fracturing his right patella in practice and sidelined for remainder of the season.
The now bursting Michael averaged 7.1 points and 1.6 blocks, while also ranking second on team with 5.9 rebounds per game and third with .490 field goal percentage; but he again missed a lot of game time with another right patella fracture as a senior in 2011/12.
He sat out all of December and most of January with the injury, then returned to play 19 games, starting 15, and he was first on the team in rebounding (8.8 rpg) and fifth in scoring (9.0 ppg), then tied his career-high scoring record with 19 points and a game-high 15 rebounds against UMass on February 29, 2012.
After going undrafted in the 2012 pool for USA’s National Basketball Association (NBA), Michael Eric joined Cleveland Cavaliers for the Summer League, then signed his first professional contract with the club on August 10, 2012, but was later waived on October 27, 2012, only to be acquired by Canton Charge of the NBA Development League as an affiliate player in November 2012.
In July 2013, Eric joined Philadelphia 76ers for action in the Orlando Summer League and Golden State Warriors for the Las Vegas Summer League, after which he was reacquired by Canton on November 1, 2013 and, three days later, he was traded to Texas Legends.
On January 15, 2014, Eric was waived by The Legends due to a season-ending injury, but he signed with Milwaukee Bucks on September 27, 2014 , only to be waived on October 27, 2014, following which he signed with Panelefsiniakos of Greece on December 4, 2014, and made his Greek Basket Super League debut on December 13.
However, the next day, he signed with Enel Brindisi of Italy for rest of the 2014/15 season as a hasty replacing Cedric Simmons, after the forward suffered a season-ending knee injury; but he returned to the US in July 2015 and joined Milwaukee for the 2015 NBA Summer League.
On October 31, Eric returned to Texas Legends, only to be waived by the team on November 11, and reacquired on November 20, following which he was named in the West All-Star team for the 2016 NBA D-League All-Star Game on January 29, 2016.
At the season’s end, Eric earned NBA D-League All-Defensive Team honors, and signed with AEK Athens of Greece for the rest of the 2015–16 Greek Basket League season on April 5, 2016; but he was again on the move just three months later, as he joined Washington Wizards In July 2016.
He was signed on for the 2016 NBA Summer League and signed with Bilbao Basket of Spain on August 7, 2016, after which he Darüşşafaka of Turkey on July 18, 2017 and then signed a two-year deal with Kirolbet Baskonia of Spain on July 9, 2019.
During his time in Spain, Michael Eric averaged 7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, but he left the team on July 7, 2020 and on July 15 he moved to his current base with Türk Telekom, from where he has sent out a passionate tribute in memory of his late father, who died at the age of 72 after suffering stomach ache in the late hours of last Wednesday.
The late football legend’s son took to social media to mourn the death of his father, even as the fast-rising basketball sensation quickly interjected that he just has to stay strong and do all he can to avoid anything that would allow his emotions affect him physically.
Eric posted about the late coach, who is survived by a wife and four children: “I’m heartbroken. I just lost my mentor, my best friend, my blood, my father!!. I’m devastated at the moment. I know he would be telling me to have the courage and build mental strength right now.
“I don’t have him anymore for that. He was more than a goalkeeper, athlete, and Olympian. He was a friend to many, a father figure to many, a mentor to many. At this current moment, I’m numb and speechless.
“We’ll miss his smiles, his jokes, his generosity, and everything about him that made him unique. I will miss you papa ooo. Always remember to show and tell your loved ones how much you love them and appreciate them #Joeerico you will be missed.”