At age 14, Michael Tertseaa already 6-foot-7, had an opportunity to receive an education and play basketball at a Catholic high school in Maryland, US.
But it meant leaving his village in Benue State, Nigeria, where his mom was his whole world. His father abandoned them when he was about 5 years old.
So he kissed his mother goodbye and left to begin a new life at John Carroll School. For four years, he did not see his mum.
According to a report by washingtonpost.com, Micheal Tertseaa, after completing high school, has a full ride to play Division 1 basketball at the University of Rhode Island and his dream is make it to the National Basketball Association and be able to bring his mother to the United States.
However, his classmates did not want him to wait that long before seeing his mum again, so they decided to raise the money among themselves to fly her to United States to see him graduate, the report said.
The students secured a ticket, a visa and accommodations for Michael's mum and arranged for her to attend her son's graduation.
It was reportedly meant to be a surprise but she could not keep the secret and let it slip during one of their weekly phone calls. Still, Micheal did not believe it until he stood at the Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport arrivals gate last Friday and embraced his mother, Felicia Ikpum, for the first time in four years.
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On Saturday, Michael graduated. He walked across a stage built on the school's football field to excited cheers from the senior class. And up in the stands, waving at him, sat his mother.
Michael said, according to a report by cbsnews.com, that his mother barely recognised him, as he had grown so much.
She was able to attend a week of graduation activities and Michael also plans to take her to see the monuments in Washington, DC, the report said.
“I was so happy to see her. I’ve changed a lot. … she’s been amazed at the person I’ve become,” he was quoted as saying.