College Basketball Wasatch Academy '14 Cincinnati State Tusculum University '18

My Story

My name is Muhammed Ahmarudeen Yusuf, I played Basketball at Wasatch Academy. I graduated high school in 2014.

Here is Billy in the middle who “adopted” both Yusuf and Alex on the right. He and his wife Suzanne brought both to his house in Cincinnati and took care of these guys physically, mentally, financially and spiritually for over 6 years.  They still keep in touch with Alex who is back in France.

I also played college basketball at Cincinnati State and Tusculum University. I graduated college in 2018. I am originally from Lagos Nigeria. I came to the United States like other international student athletes through scholarship to continue their academics and basketball career. I am a sports enthusiast with a strong work ethic, disciplined, responsible, computer proficient and performs well under pressure. I have got great talent and one of them is skill in coaching multiple sports like basketball, soccer, weight training, and competitive bodybuilding. I also have experience with preparing all workstations and promotions for basketball tournaments. I went to Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant, Utah where I won two State Championship, and numerous accomplishments during my high school years. I was also an All-State & All-Star with the late coach Geno Morgan.

Yusuf with Caroline

After leaving Wasatch, I then had a short stint at Cincinnati State for a year before transferring to Tusculum University.

On his way back to Tusculum, Gary and Yusuf stopped at the original KFC.

Unfortunately, I was not able to continue playing basketball because of a heart problem as I was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome. During my academic career, I managed to accrue nearly six years of work experience. I also had the privilege of working for numerous athletic camps and leagues, where I learned valuable skills such as event management tasks and training individuals to reach their athletic potential. I was on the Deans list for all four years in College and graduated with 3.6 GPA. Outside of basketball, I worked at soccer village printing logos on professional soccer jerseys and club teams.

Here is a picture of Gary, Whitney and Yusuf. Both Gary and Whitney worked for Billy at IronRoad, who he and his wife Suzanne both “adopted” Yusuf into their family.

I also worked at IronRoad as a Sales Consultant doing outreach to companies around Ohio. I worked at Heritage Housing as a Design Manager and lastly, I worked with Greene County Partnership as a sales consultant. In both of my academic and professional life, I have been consistently complimented by managers, coaches, professors and peers for his discipline, determination, and dedication. Whether working on academic, extracurricular, or professional projects, I apply analytical thinking, creativity, and leadership skills.

Here, is a picture of Yusuf with his “adopted family,” the Southerland’s. Blake, Suzanne (Mom), Allison, Caroline and Billy (Dad).

My Check Your Game story was when I was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome, it was a disaster for me because during my time here I dedicated nearly 95 percent of my time into basketball and the remaining 5 percent into other areas. Basketball was my number one priority! I’ve always been a good student in school but I wanted to use basketball as a vehicle to help myself and my family for a better life because I came from a very poor home with 8 kids.

Here in the pic is the famous Jack Hanna, posing with Yusuf.

Long story short, after I found out about the Marfan thing, I decided to take school seriously, because I didn’t want to lose in both areas. I graduated from Tusculum this past year.

Yusuf in the back and Alex who is up front is posing with 3 of the 4 Southerland kids.


Yusuf passed on October 16th of 2019 from cancer. Here is Blake putting a scoopful of dirt on his Yusuf’s grave.

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My Advice

Never depend on one thing in life, always have backup plan because anything can happen in life. It may be injury, sickness, family problems etc. Always have an option because you don't want to put all your eggs in one basket. Make sure you pray, serve people and make friends because everything that I've learned so far in life is if your not making connections, or talking to people or making friends, you will have a difficult life. Everything in the sporting world or the business world is based on relationships and friendships. So friends out there be social, meet people, be open and friendly. Always check on people, ask them about their life, how they are doing both physically and mentally. Trust me this can go a long way.


Yusuf, I've known you for a bunch of years from the time that Billy/Suzanne Southerland ("your adopted family") took you in and loved you like one of theirs. I remember the Cincinnati State days at the beginning. You always had this love for basketball and I was a part of your experiences for a short time. Thank you so much for being vulnerable and talking about how you might have put a lot of energy(95%) into your sport only to have that dream of playing come to an end because of the medical issue that took place! You have handled that situation as good as anyone could. You didn't just give up your sport as you continued to work with the Tusculum Basketball Team, helping to coach and mentor. You have a great story Yusuf and I'm excited to share your story with others who might feel like they are the only ones dealing with something as detrimental as what you had to deal with. Again, thanks for sharing. -Gary Rogers

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Eliah Stephaniuk says:

Right now at this moment in my life I’m going through a bit of change in what I want to do with my life, I thought what I was doing in college was going to be a great career choice and now I’m finding it really is not for me. Yusuf had to change his career path due to health reasons but he had what he was doing in school as a back up plan. I did not and at the moment I’m scrambling to find out what to do now. What I got out of this story is always have a backup plan even if looks like everything is going great because you don’t know what is going to happen. Thanks for sharing.

Tanner Southerland d says:

Yusuf was the ultimate example of unconditional love. As much as his circumstances wavered and his health diminished, his love was constant. It was his number one priority yet it came so naturally. Yusuf was one of the closest human versions of Christ’s I have experienced. You would have never known all he had been through and he didn’t want you to. He wanted to talk about you, he wanted to support you, his thoughts were always on others. I miss him every single day but I know his story lives on and so does he.

Vincent E. says:

Still doesn’t seem real man… Yusuf and I grew up togther loving this game of basketball. It provided us the opportunity to get an education in the states. We had so many phone conversations while on trips back to our respective schools or homes. He was selfless, we built each other up and saw the positives out of every situation. I know you’re watching over us and I want to say I miss you man. I can’t stop shedding tears because you had more to give the world.

Rest in power brotha.

Elizabeth Testamark says:

Big Yu. I’ve only known you for a short period of time but I would not trade the times we’ve spoken, played games, painted, watched t.v. together for anything else. The stories I have heard about you and your character, the way you’ve loved people, how you protected people and cared for others makes me feel like I knew you for a longer time. You are so loved. You are truly missed and have left a mark on the lives of those who know you and those who didn’t. We love you &’ We will continue to Love This Game. <3