White overcomes racial adversity
His feet have made him a living. They also might have saved his life.It was a pretty typical March evening in Belgrade. Jeremiah White was in his first season (2004) with Serbian soccer club OFK Beograd and had just finished dinner with several teammates. It was a relaxed pace for White, an African-American midfielder known for his speed. Hands in pockets and laughing with his teammates, all seemed right in the world. In his own words, he remembers walking through the capital city and noticing a group of OFK supporters. Outgoing and true to form, White approached the group. What happened next is still somewhat of a blur to him. "As I got closer to the group, a few of the guys began to raise their arms, making Nazi gestures towards me. At that point, I probably should have walked away, but I asked them what their problem was -- I said to them that they probably have no clue why they were making those gestures," White said. "Long story short, one of the guys confronted me in an aggressive manner, and I defended myself." The situation quickly escalated. Having put one of the assailants on his back, White was quickly on his heels. With the rest of the hooligans chasing him, White ran for his life. The feet that earned him his first chance to play professional soccer carried him to safety. As he remembers it, "none [of the attackers] were able to catch up."
Kristian R. Dyer is a freelance writer for ESPNsoccernet. He is the associate editor of Blitz magazine and also writes for the New York City daily paper METRO. He can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com.
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