Warriors’ Foyle becomes U.S. citizen 

After nearly 20 years in the United States, Golden State Warriors center Adonal Foyle took the official oath Tuesday and became a U.S. citizen — in between signing autographs, of course.

With his right hand raised, Foyle was joined by more than 1,100 others representing 94 countries at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service’s biweekly naturalization ceremony. All eyes were on Foyle during the ceremony, as camera-wielding fans tried to capture his entire 6-foot-10-inch frame.

"What was incredible about [the ceremony] is that there were people from all over the world in that room — and I was thinking about the journey it took to get to this point, just like everyone else," said Foyle, who was coming off the Warriors’ 117-110 victory Monday night that broke the Dallas Mavericks’ 17-game winning streak. "Everyone came here because they were hoping for greater things."

Sharon Rummery, spokeswoman for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Pacific Northwest, said this is the first celebrity she can recall attending a naturalization ceremony.

"You can say it was really unusual — most of the celebrities being naturalized are in Los Angeles," Rummery said. She said that about30,000 people are naturalized in San Francisco annually.

Foyle came to the United States when he was 16 for a better life, emigrating from the Caribbean island of Canouan, part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Jay and Joan Mandel, two professors from New York, discovered Foyle during a basketball game and "adopted" him — becoming his legal guardians and bringing him to New York and Philadelphia to pursue his love for basketball.

"We are very proud of him," said Jay Mandel, who came to the ceremony in support.

Drafted out of Colgate University by the Warriors with the eighth pick in the 1997 draft, Foyle, 32, is known for his defense; he is Golden State’s all-time leader in blocked shots.

As the team’s longest-tenured player, Foyle also roots himself in community work — he founded a nationwide nonpartisan organization called Democracy Matters, which gives students a voice in issues of democracy, in 2001.

Juan Acosta, who is originally from Colombia, was surprised to see Foyle at his naturalization ceremony.

"I took a picture with him. It’s kind of funny, because I was watching the game last night," Acosta said.

Foyle said he spends most of his time shuffling back and forth between his Orinda home and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and has now spent equal time in both countries.

"I think I’ll be forever torn," Foyle said.

eeconomides@examiner.com

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