TULSA, Oklahoma - On the field, Tulsa defensive tackle Suleiman Masumbuko is a force. "I try to just dummy it down and play fast and with a lot of aggression, of course, because the position I play doesn't allow me to be passive at all," he explained.

But for the Baylor transfer and TU graduate student the road to get here was long.

Masumbuko was born in Rwanda, and a year after his birth his home country experienced a Civil War. This led to the Rwandan Genocide, killing nearly 20 percent of the country’s population. Masumbuko's family then fled. "It was definitely tough fleeing from a country that you wanted to call home and that is considered home, but you can’t really call it home," he added.

After his family fled, his home turned into various countries, first fleeing for survival in the Congo and Uganda.  Finally, they moved to Texas, but his parents later decided to head back to Africa. "It wasn't something I could comprehend as a child. I went through stages asking why it became difficult [that the people] I was supposed to call mom and dad [weren’t] around," he said.

With his parents gone, his older brother Saidi took care of him. "It was difficult when I couldn't really understand why he was acting the way he was. Even though he was my brother he had to take on a different role in the sense that [he] didn't really comprehend with me until later on in life," elaborated Masumbuko. “My brother kept me to my roots. I always have to remember where I came from and why I am who I am. I can't thank him enough for making me into the man he made me today.”

Masumbuko was able to get his education at Euless Trinity and then sign to play football at Baylor before becoming a Golden Hurricane.

He’s now rejoined familiar faces from Baylor and adjusting to life by himself. While looking forward to seeing his big brother at games, he'll be pursuing his master’s in education.  

For Masumbuko, remembering his past will help mold him for his future. “There's a lot of violence and there's a lot of poverty. [There are] two different ends of the spectrum I could be living in, and I'm blessed to be in the one I'm right now," he said.