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Diversity star competing for the love of basketball

PASSION FOR THE GAME: Ike Ezekwugo

IKE EZEKWUGO went from selling phones in an O2 shop to selling out the O2 Arena with Diversity. But he’ll get the chance to further his secret passion for basketball when he plays there in the Celebrity All-Star Game at Hoops Aid on May 10.

Ezekwugo, 28, will swap his dancing shoes for sneakers to join an all-star cast raising money for the Sports Traider charity. He said: “I love basketball. I used to compete for Newham College and we won the league back in 2005. I was already dancing back then because that was my passion but I used to try and get involved in everything.

“I never had the chance to take it more seriously because there were no opportunities for me to train more professionally.
“There are not as many chances to learn the game in the UK as there are in other countries. If there had been I would have chased it.

“When I heard about Hoops Aid I knew I had to get involved in that. I love the idea of how the charity helps disabled and disadvantaged kids get into sport. I’ve still got a ball in the boot of my car with me wherever I go, and I’ve been going to a Reebok gym in Canary Wharf to practice. Hopefully we can have some fun and raise as much awareness of the project as we can.”

Ezekwugo will play alongside the likes of The Voice winner Jermain Jackman, heavyweight boxer Dereck Chisora and Steve O from Jackass at the charity fundraising event.

He is one of the eight-strong dance troupe Diversity which won Britain’s Got Talent in 2009. They have since sold out the O2 Arena three times.

But he only got his big break after being spotted working in an O2 phone shop in the Lakeside shopping centre.
He said: “Yeah, I’ve gone from an O2 shop to the 02 Arena! I never thought of it like that before – that’s crazy! I used to dance in the shop. There was always music playing, and one day Ashley Banjo came into the shop to buy a phone.

“I was trying to sell him one when one of the girls in the shop, who knew him, told him I could dance. We got talking and it turned out he was a choreographer. He invited me down to his dance studio in Dagenham and the rest is history.”

For more info on Hoops Aid 2015, follow @hoopsaid - or visit http://bit.ly/1DOONDf to buy tickets

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