“It’s pretty cool,” said Kanu. “Their family is really nice, especially the mom, Ms. Sally. She’s like a mom to me.”
Kanu works part time at a Stop and Shop in Quincy, but Abundis has urged Kanu to save his money for the future, rather than pay rent. Since Kanu is in this country on a green card, and not yet a US citizen, he is not eligible for any government assistance or federal loans for college.
Family members of his Quincy High teammates have given Kanu gift cards to buy clothes. Besides his part-time job, he has no other resources for college.
Abundis has told Kanu to make grades his top priority, trying to create more opportunities for an athlete with the odds up against him.
“I try to tell him he should focus on school and soccer, not just one thing,” said Abundis. “But he is very determined, and he has the technical skill’’ to play college soccer.
The 5-foot-11, 140-pound Kanu has his sights set on a future in soccer. Described as a powerful key player by his coach, he is skilled at distributing the ball and taking on plays for a Quincy High squad that opened its season with a 4-1 win over North Quincy before dropping Patriot League games to Hanover (3-0) Monday and and Scituate (2-1) on Wednesday.
“I’m trying to accomplish something,” said Kanu. “I want to take my team to a different level, more than we did last year.”
The Presidents lost to King Philip, 3-2, in the preiminary round of the Division 1 South tourney last season, finishing 9-6-5 overall.
“We have a lot to fight for,” said the younger Abundis. “Lamar should be with us on that field, but we’re going to play like he is.”.
Against Scituate, the Presidents fought to maintain possession for most of the first half after allowing an early goal. In the second half, Marli Caslli threw the ball into the goal box, allowing striker James O’Shea to finish off the scoring chance. Scituate netted the go-ahead goal with 12 minutes left.
Highly motivated, talkative, and almost always wearing a smile from ear to ear, Kanu impresses those around him.
“He’s great,” said Spendlove. “He’s always got a big smile on his face. There really haven’t been any outward signs of things getting to him.”
Despite the tribulations, Kanu counts his blessings.
“It’s stressful,” said Kanu. “I want to thank the Abundis family, principal Santoro, and my coach for being there when I needed somebody, my teammates for encouraging me and their families for the gifts they’ve given me.”
E-mail Coryn Doncaster at firstname.lastname@example.org.