Ebiye Jeremy “EJ” Udo-Udoma is a former pro freestyler turned two-sport Team USA athlete. EJ is a 1st generation Nigerian-American, who started out as a sports model for Nike, Adidas, New Era, Powerade etc. He specialized in basketball commercials and after winning the 2012 Harlem Globetrotters Online Talent Search in 2012, a scout steered EJ towards a Team USA Handball try-out. He went on to debut at 20 and has since gone on to represent the US Handball team, win gold at the Pan-Am’s with the US Beach Handball team, and even have a number of goals go viral. EJ also plays touch rugby for the LA Royals with whom he won the 2017 National Championship & earned a call-up for the USA Touch Rugby National Team that competed at the 2019 World Cup. EJ is also a beach handball ambassador promoting the sport in hopes of it joining the summer Olympics.
We had the chance to catch up with EJ and get to know him a little better.
What do you attribute the most to your success?
My Mother; metaphorically and literally I wouldn’t be where I am without her unconditional love and support.
Who is your sporting idol/someone you looked up to growing up?
I looked up to a number of athletes across a variety of sports, but #1 on the list is Ronaldinho. I don’t think there’s been an athlete at the top of their discipline who looked like they had as much fun as he did, and I admired his flair and joyful disposition as a world class athlete. He helped me shatter the notion that an elite competitor has to be angry or anal-retentive, and he is part of the reason I wear #10 for USA Handball.
What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?
I enjoy social dancing; swing, blues, salsa, bachata, and I’m in the process of learning kizomba & Brazilian zouk. I’ve found it to be a healthy way to socialize and improve a number of skills that translate back to the court (rhythm, reaction, spatial intelligence, sensitivity, footwork, creativity, etc).
Besides the sport(s) you compete in, what is your favorite sport?
I’m a big fan of watching competitive tag (yes, like the childhood playground game). Rounds are very fast paced and the traceurs who compete at the highest level are some of the most acrobatic, perspicacious athletes I’ve ever seen.
Do you have any words of advice to aspiring athletes?
When I graduated high school I didn’t receive a scholarship to play any sport, at any level, collegiately. 9 years later I can say I’ve started on 3 different US National Teams (Court Handball, Beach Handball, and Touch Rugby). You’re never too old to dream, and you’re never too young to succeed. Stay dedicated to the pursuit of your best self and have faith the roots you lay in training now will bear fruit at some point, in some way, in the future.