Now in his third season with the Miami Dolphins, after five seasons with Detroit, Oregon-born defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh spoke with KweséESPN about visiting his father's homeland of Cameroon, and supporting the Indomitable (not Detroit) Lions.
Q. Given your dad is from Cameroon, have you been able to visit much?
A. I was there about two years ago. I enjoyed my time, I spent two weeks there. I'm definitely close to my African roots. I'm very close to one of my oldest aunts on my Dad's side. I know my extended family knows me [as an NFL player], as well as other people in the village where my Dad is from in Bamenda.
Q. Was there a specific place that made an impression on you after visiting?
A. I flew into Douala (and) stayed there for two or three days before I went to Bamenda where my dad spent a majority of his life. I was also in Tonga where he was born. I was given traditional clothing and made an ambassador of Tonga. I met the chief there.
Q. Was that your first ever visit, or did you get the opportunity to visit the country as a kid growing up in America?
A. That was my first visit. It was something traditional. I knew if I wanted to go anywhere else in Africa, I had to go step foot in Cameroon first and foremost. I wanted to go there and see my Aunt Helen and the rest of my family that lives there. As people in Israel have a rite of passage, it was my rite of passage to go to Cameroon.
Q. Do you pay attention to and keep up with the Cameroonians in the NBA?
A. Yeah, no question. [Joel] Embiid with the 76ers, I saw him in a preseason game when he played against Miami [last season]. I definitely keep close to those guys that have come out of Africa and have their roots there. I definitely wish them the best.
Q. What about the Cameroon national soccer team? Do you try to keep up with how the Indomitable Lions perform at World Cups and the Africa Cup of Nations?
A. I do, during the World Cup and qualification sometimes. My life is very busy so I watch games when I get an opportunity. To see Cameroon win the Africa Cup of Nations [in January] was great. I'd love to see them in the World Cup and play at a high level. I was fortunate enough to see them in 2014 play against Brazil. It was a terrible loss so I'd love to see them in a better light and go support them.
Q. Do you have a favourite Cameroonian soccer player?
A. I don't really have a favorite player. I just make sure I root for them all and hopefully they can move on to the World Cup.
Q. Would you be keen on doing work within Africa to help develop the NFL there in the future?
A. I would love to see the NFL go to Cameroon. I think there's a lot of talent and kids there would love the sport. Predominantly football [soccer] is big over there but I think kids would enjoy it [American Football] and understand it but they just haven't been exposed to it. I've been across the world, from China to the UK to a million different places to promote the game for the NFL, and I would be more than happy to bring it out to Cameroon and do a camp.
Q. With players like yourself and the Kouandjio brothers [Arie at the Ravens, Cyrus a free agent] as examples, do you think there are kids in Cameroon that might have the potential to play football at a high level in America?
A. I've never met [the brothers] but I would definitely be interested in doing something with them, having an opportunity to go back there. I put on a camp and a soccer game there when I went back through my foundation, so I'd love to go back. I'd love to go back and do something and bring the NFL [to Cameroon].
Q. For teammates and fans that don't know much about Cameroon, how would you describe the country and its people?
A. I think they're strong, hardworking people. They come from a humble background. Really, I take a lot of pride in my roots, especially my name. Having an African name means the world to me.