17-year-old Ghanaian Exchange Student Downed After His Kayak Capsized in the US

Abdul Shanun posted “Thank God for a beautiful day” on Twitter Saturday, and later tweeted the words “Mission Bay.”
The 17-year-old immigrant from Ghana — a promising basketball player who was being recruited by San Diego State University and other colleges — rented a red kayak, but ran into trouble and capsized about 3 p.m.

Witnesses saw him cling to a life preserver for a short time before he lost losing grip. A nearby kayaker extended an oar to aid him, but he sank in the water off Santa Clara Point Recreation Center.
He did not know how to swim, authorities said, and either wasn’t wearing his life vest or wasn’t wearing it correctly.
Lifeguards, divers and boats equipped with sonar technology searched the bay’s murky water until dark, then resumed looking for his body Sunday morning. He was found in about 25 feet of water about 9:35 a.m
Shanun was a 6-foot 8-inch power forward who had played with a number of organizations around the country before landing at Balboa City School, a private school in San Diego.
His arrival here was a little unorthodox, people involved in local basketball say: After competing in the Under Armour Holiday Classic basketball competition at Torrey Pines with a Georgia-based team, he decided the California city was the place for him, and stayed.
His team headed back to the southern and Shanun went to live with Kwaku Amoaku, a coach with the local AAU club Coastal Elite and an assistant at Miramar College, who helped Shanun emigrate to the States in 2012.
Amoaku, who goes by the name Coach Ku, met Shanun at an annual basketball camp in Ghana which is hosted by his organization, the African Youth Basketball Organization. Coach Ku was born to Ghanaian parents and holds the annual camps to uncover athletes with raw talent and bring the top boys to the U.S. to develop. Shanun was one of those talents, and Coach Ku helped connect him with a private university in Massachusetts.
“He is an excellent student and ambassador for (the African Youth Basketball Association,)” the organization’s website side.
Shanun, who was set to travel the country with his club team this summer to play in basketball tournaments, was rated as a three-star prospect on Rivals.com.
“Abdul’s engaging personality, character, work ethic and dedication is how we will remember him. He genuinely touched an entire community,” said Steve Becvar, whose son played with Abdul and whose family helped house him in San Diego. “Our deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers go out to his family in Ghana. Abdul was clearly the product of a strong upbringing.”
While his athletic prowess was undeniable, said basketball scout Aaron Burgin, a former U-T reporter, Shanun’s humility was his cardinal trait.
“He was always approachable and deferentially respectful,” Burgin said. “…His energy was infectious, on and off the court. He was the type of kid a program wants because not only would he bust his butt on the court for you, but he is a stand-up kid off the court.”
He said even though Shanun was an obvious talent, he was never overconfident.
“He was just excited to be getting an education and to be in a position to get better as a basketball player and a person,” Burgin said.
One of Shanun’s Twitter postings read, “2013 & 2014 have been the most confusing, challenging, emotional, hardest, eye-opening & unforgettable years of my life and blessed.”
Friends turned to the social media site to remember Shanun.
“RIP to a bright young man who had a bright future,” one user said. Another posted, “…heaven jus got a 6’9” gentle giant.”
Bevcar said a fund had been set up to help pay for burial and family memorial costs, at youcaring.com/AbdulRazak