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Brazilian finds home with Trojan family

Submitted by adm_wordpress on February 17, 2012 – 5:05 pmNo Comment

Senior forward Marlon Louzeiro started 18 games for the Trojans during the 2010-11 season and shot 51% from the floor. He sat out the 2009-10 season after transferring from Midland College. Photo by Matt Johnson

Marlon Louzeiro arrived in Midland, Texas in 2007 as a Brazilian transplant who couldn’t speak a word of English.  Five years later, he has already completed a degree in health sciences and exercises and is close to finishing a second degree in speech communication.

 

Louzeiro played soccer for a year, but the team filled up when he was 10 years old so he turned to basketball and never looked back.  Louzeiro, who is known by friends and teammates as “Marlo,” has taken a winding journey but seems to be at home in Little Rock.

Growing up in San Luiz, Brazil, which is situated on an island in the northern area of the country, soccer was king.  Basketball was merely on the peripheral, but for Louzeiro it was a life-changer.  When he was ten, his father lost his job because of the poor economy and he wasn’t able to pay the tuition to play basketball and attend school.  After a year and half, Carlos Tinoco, a local coach, worked with Louzeiro and they figured out a way for him to resume playing basketball.

“[Tinoco] gave me the conditions necessary to play basketball and study when I was 11 years old.” Louzeiro said.

When Louzeiro was ready to enter high school, about the age of 15 or 16, he moved to Sao Paulo, a larger city where basketball was more popular.  There, he met Walter Roese, a talent scout who had experience coaching at a high level in college basketball.

Louzeiro was soon chosen for the 17s Brazilian national team, a huge honor.

Options were starting to grow, some of which involved leaving Brazil for the first time to play college basketball in the United States.  Ultimately, Louzeiro chose to move to the United States, but it wasn’t without plenty of consternation. Nobody in Marlon’s family had ever left Brazil, much less traveled as far north as the United States.  Really, Louzeiro’s family did not travel away from San Luis very much at all.

To make a scary decision even more difficult, Louzeiro’s family was worried about the war that the United States was involved in.  It didn’t seem like a good idea to send a son to a country that was in the middle of a foreign conflict so that he could play basketball, but ultimately the decision was made.  Marlo first stepped on to the campus at Midland College in Midland, Texas in 2007 not knowing the first thing about American culture or the English language.  But he knew how to play basketball.

“The first year was really about just learning the language,” Louzeiro said.  “It was hard at first to play not understanding what everyone was saying.”

According to Louzeiro, it took him about a year to get comfortable enough with the English language to where he could start settling down.  By that time, he was starting to think about where he would go after Midland.  UALR coach Joe Golding drove 650 miles from Little Rock to Midland, which is situated in west Texas near the New Mexico state line, to recruit Louzeiro, and to a humble kid from San Luiz, Brazil, that meant a lot.

“Coach Golding drove all the way to Midland just to talk to me.” Louzeiro said.

When Louzeiro got to UALR, he was taken aback by how well the coaches and players treated each other, likening it to a big family.  It sounds cliché, but to someone far from home with few friends and fewer relatives nearby, it was everything.

According to Ted Crass, student manager of the Trojans basketball team, Louzeiro is the perfect teammate.

“My favorite thing about Marlo is his enthusiasm from the bench. Even when he is not playing much, he is energetic and motivating towards the guys getting in. Another good thing is he never blames coaches or teammates, only himself. Marlo is exactly what college athletics is supposed to do for kids.”

If you want to see Marlo light up, ask him about the Trojans trip to Lexington, KY to take on the University of Kentucky Wildcats.
“It was awesome.  In San Luiz, we grew up watching teams like Kentucky, Duke and Villanova play.  I look forward to challenges.  To me, I like to see what those guys have that I don’t have.”

Crass added that the entire team relished the opportunity, and that Louzeiro took advantage of a big opportunity.

“Kentucky was an experience of a life time for all of us. Marlo, along with everyone else, was excited with the opportunity.  With our starting forward, Will Neighbour, out we needed Marlo to step up and he did. He played with no fear of 6’11, projected No. 1 overall NBA draft pick, Anthony Davis.”

With Louzeiro’s last season of collegiate basketball more than halfway over, he has one eye toward the future, which probably will include a Masters in Communication.

“I have pretty much lost my Brazilian culture.  I haven’t been back in five years, and I want to go visit, but I don’t ever want to move back there.  I just put the decision in God’s hands and see what happens, but I hope that I can stay here and work or play professionally somewhere.”

Marlo gives off an aura of being happy with who he is and what he is doing.  For anyone who hasn’t had the experience that he has, the road ahead would look daunting.  But to Louzeiro, it’s just another chapter in an already-thick book of his life.  He credits Brazilians Walter Roese and Carlos Tinoco for getting him to this point, and now he is ready to move forward on his own.

“My life is one big journey.  I am in the United States because of Walter Roese.  But my life with basketball began with Carlos Tinoco in San Luiz, Brazil.”

Most of us will never travel the kind of road that Louzeiro has already traveled, and for him, it’s just getting started.

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