Jan. 8, 2008
While most athletes come to loathe running as part of practice or conditioning, Bio Bilaye-Benibo appreciates each and every opportunity. In fact, when he was first born, the likelihood of him being able to walk, much less run, was in serious doubt.
Benibo was born with a foot deformity--the soles of his feet were turned upward. In an attempt to help correct his feet, which were pointed the wrong direction, doctors put the infant in heavy boots. He was scheduled to have surgery on his feet shortly thereafter, but in an act of faith, his mother cancelled her baby's surgery when she noticed that his feet had started to turn downward.
. "Being an athlete is an everyday miracle. I know part of my purpose in life is to use sports as an opportunity to talk to people about Christ. It's not pretentious, it's just the way I am." he noted. "My first name, "Biobele" means "my heart rejoices" in Kalabari, my family's native Nigerian language. And my middle name means "Given" or "Pre-ordained by God." And I think both of those names describe me perfectly," he concluded.
Benibo has been a member of two successful teams in his time at Rice University. The senior wrapped up his football career in the fall and he also runs track for the Owls. . To double in sports at an academic institution like Rice makes is all more impressive. He was a member of the 2006 Owls' squad that earned its first bowl in 45 years and was a member of the 2005 conference champion track team.
"Coming out of high school, I always envisioned myself being a track athlete. In fact, I was literally throwing away football scholarship offers from other schools because I thought it was a waste of time," Benibo stated. "But, soon the football offers started coming more and more, so I decided that I wanted to play football as well. I began looking for schools that would allow me to do both sports. That became my number one criteria" he added.
Academically, Bio loves anything that involves processes. He will graduate this year with a degree in political science.
"I like to write and express my opinion on things. I'm always very analytical and annoyingly observant," he said. " I like to watch how tiny pieces of seemingly unrelated things come together to form something we all recognize and respect. My major allows me to incorporate all these things." Benibo explained.
For the last five summers, he has been a part of a Christian Ministry called Stillwater Sports Camp in the Texas Hill Country. The camp invites children of different socio-economic backgrounds and races from around Texas for some very intense sport-specific training.
"These kids leave with spiritual training that prepares them for the intense competition that is everyday life," he noted. "More than that, my relationship with the kids doesn't end after their week of camp is over. Going back into broken homes and rough neighborhoods, in a non-Christian atmosphere is the hardest part so I maintain a relationship with most of the campers. It's crazy now because some of the same `kids' I called campers years ago, are now in college and are my close friends" he added.
Benibo explained that his plans after college are simple and low key. He wants to choose his career wisely.
"Being around the people I love and doing something I love is more important than how much I'm making." He may return to his hometown, Corpus Christi and work at the local ministry. But, he really enjoyed working last summer for a real estate agency and could see that in his future as well.
Regardless of what he does, it is clear that Bio is special. He will be one of Tomorrow's Leader.