Former Portland State basketball star Ime Udoka recently decided to start a scholarship program in honor of his father, Vitalis Udoka, who passed away last October.Spending most of his life in Portland, Ime went to Jefferson High School and then attended PSU from 1998 to 2000. Having gone through many trials and tribulations, Udoka ended up in the NBA and is the only former Portland State Viking playing professional basketball for his hometown Blazers.The biggest shock came on the first day of the season. Nate McMillan had just informed him that he would be starting in a preseason game against Golden State. His father had even made plans to watch his son start. However, his plans where derailed when he died unexpectedly of heart complications.Vitalis was one of Ime’s biggest supporters and his death was a deep gash in Ime’s life. Udoka turned his tragedy into hard work, as he continues to have success with the Blazers. As a full-time starter, Udoka fills up the stat box every night, averaging 8.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists and one steal per game. He is also the defensive specialist on the team, defending some of the toughest players in the league, including Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Lamar Odom and Elton Brand.Vitalis emigrated from Nigeria and attended Portland State’s School of Business. Ime feels that Portland State gave both him and his father good opportunities and wants to extend a helping hand to others.”His father really believed in Ime and really pushed him to where he is right now,” said Udoka’s agent, Erin Cowan.The Vitalis S. Udoka Memorial Scholarship offers two separate scholarships. The Udoka Basketball Scholarship is for a member of the men’s or women’s basketball team who demonstrates financial need and maintains a 3.0 GPA. The Udoka Business Scholarship is offered to any undergrad student who maintains a 3.5 GPA within the School of Business and who is also in need. The one stipulation on the scholarships is that any Jefferson High graduate will receive preference.Ime Udoka has not even signed a long-term extension and, as of yet, does not even have a team to play for next season. This scholarship is coming right of Udoka’s pocket. When he made the decision to create the scholarship, he did not have any guaranteed money on the season. “Ime had signed a non-guaranteed contract with non-guaranteed money, so his future is not determined,” said Cowan. “The fact that he chose to give money to his alma mater without a contract speaks volumes about this guy.”Ime has delivered tough play on countless nights as a Jefferson Democrat, a PSU Viking and now a Trail Blazer. This guy is Oregon basketball.Udoka will present a check to interim Athletic Director Teri Mariani at this Saturday’s men’s basketball game at 7 p.m.
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