Foyle’s off-court win — becoming a U.S. citizen 

Warriors center Adonal Foyle has always been an advocate for exercising the right to vote. And for the first time since he first arrived from his home island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 1991, Foyle himself will actually get to cast his own ballot.

Foyle, the longest-tenured player on the Golden State roster, has reason to celebrate during All-Star weekend after officially completing his final task toward applying for U.S. citizenship — a process that’s taken him 10 years to complete.

After being given 100 questions to study — and being asked 20 of them in an oral exam in the federal building in downtown Oakland — the center-philanthropist can now add another label to his cap — American.

"I actually wasn’t planning on being a citizen," Foyle admitted. "I was just finishing up my education and then decide where to go from there. So my first five years in the States, I was on a student visa going to school and going through the whole student life. After I became a professional basketball player, I started traveling more and more. And it became more and more difficult to get out of the country."

Having to go to Toronto at least once a year for a road game (and Vancouver from 1995 to 2001), Foyle said he never got special treatment for crossing the border with the team. He continued to go through tedious screenings as well as secondary screenings before realizing that he would always be the last person to board the plane.

"Everyone would look at me like ‘This non-American keeps holding up the plane,’" said Foyle, who added it was even tougher to leave the country during offseason travels.

But he wanted to be an American for more than just travel convenience. Since being drafted out of Colgate in 1997, Foyle has taken advantage of his status as an NBA player to help giving people a voice. He started a pair of organizations — Democracy Matters, a student organization that puts focus on campaign finance reform, and the Kerosene Lamp Foundation, a charity that helps raise the awareness of AIDS and good health through basketball back in his home island. He’s also active in the community every year when Election Day draws close.

"I’ve been telling people to go to the polls and vote," Foyle said. "I tell them to be aware of what they’re voting for and to pay attention to all the candidates. And they would always ask ‘Are you going to vote?’ I always gave them the inevitable ‘Oh, I can’t vote. I’m not a citizen.’ They would come back with: ‘And what are you advocating again? Campaign finance reform?’ But I do it because I believe in the system and I believe it can work. The United States has the ability to set an example for the rest of the world. But we have to do our part in cleaning up our system as well."

Now, Foyle will have a bigger voice than he’s ever had since arriving to the U.S. nearly 16 years ago. He will be sworn in at the Nob Hill Masonic center March 13 and believes everything will all sink in by then.

"I think it will be very emotional," said Foyle, who will maintain his citizenship in his native island of Canouan. "It’s going to be a big step in my life — to commit myself to another country and do it wholeheartedly.

cnavalta@examiner.com

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