Ermiyas Bowden plays on Marion County’s defensive line and as a slot receiver. He and his sister arrived in America when he was only five years old.

By John Madewell (WTVC) |

Ermiyas Bowden plays on Marion County’s defensive line and as a slot receiver.

He arrived in America when he was only five years old.

His sister also came.

They were orphans in Ethiopia until then.

His adoptive parents spent three months in Africa going through the process to get them here.

Ermiyas said, “It’s been different, a lot different. It’s been good playing football, going to school here. It’s been a different change coming from over there.”

His coach, Joey Mathis, said, “He’s come a long ways to be here. One thing about Ermiyas is he’s always smiling, he’s always in a good mood. You know he doesn’t complain about much at all.”

Jasper has been his home since coming to America.

He loves it in Marion County. “To grow up with the same kids, elementary school all the way to high school, play football with them and basketball, it’s good,” noted Ermiyas.

Mathis is sad to see him go, “He’s a senior and I wish I had him one more year, but somebody’s going to get a great player. Great academic young man.”

The senior, who also plays basketball, excels in the classroom and has already scored a 25 on his ACT. “Academics is important because I came from a background in Ethiopia where we didn’t have education. I just feel like I’m blessed to be here and I need to take advantage of it.”

Coach Mathis said Ermiyas has a great outlook on life. “He just doesn’t make excuses for anything. I think he knows what it’s like to struggle a little bit. He overcame that and he’s got a great family now.”

In addition to his athletic and academic success, he’s also civic minded.

One of his coaches asked him and some other players to play cards and board games with senior citizens at a local nursing home.

He gladly accepted keeping them company. “Just to give back to community, just to give back,” Ermiyas said.

He’s been a special player to coach Mathis. “Our relationship has grown over the years. I hate he’s going to be gone, I’m going to miss him. We’re better off having him here.”

Continue reading this story at WTVC
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