Ex-Arizona Wildcat Tangara escapes turmoil in Libyaby Steve Rivera on Feb. 28, 2011, under Sports
Former Arizona basketball player Mohamed Tangara is thankful he’s alive these days.
“I’m just glad I’m home,’’ said Tangara, just days after fleeing Libya last week in what turned out to be a four-day ordeal that saw him risk his life to get out and away from the political unrest.
Tangara, one of the more popular Wildcats in the mid-2000s before transferring to Chaminade in 2008, was playing in Zuwarah for a team called AL JAZEERA, a Division I team that was ranked No. 8 in the division.
The team brought in Tangara and a coach to help it get out of the cellar in order to stay D I and not fall into a D II category, Tangara said. He had been playing in Spain before he got called to Libya last month.
“I decided to follow the money (and) it almost ends up costing me my life,’’ Tangara said. “Thank god I am safe today.’’
He is staying in Phoenix and intends on being in Tucson for Thursday’s game against Oregon State.
He called his journey back to the state’s “unbelievable’’ and “scary.’’
Tangara was with a group of Americans – including a teammate – trying to get back from Libya after political chaos broke out two weeks ago.
“This is the first time I have been that scared,’’ said Tangara, a native of Mali. “We had to take a big risk.’’
Tangara spoke of taking a taxi – an expensive one – to the border in order to get out. Had it not been for the driver’s persuasive ways, he’s not sure he’d be alive today.
“They would stop us at the check points and if they didn’t like you, well …’’ Tangara said. “But the taxi driver would tell them we were athletes and all we wanted to do was go home.
“After we got to the border, we caught a bus and then after a bus we caught a train. Then we caught a plane’’ where they eventually got to the United States.
He said the trip cost him some money to get through “but it was for my life’’ so it was good.
He’s now working on returning to Spain to play once again.
“It’s just good to be back,’’ he said.