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The Daily Tar Heel

Former UNC men's basketball player Ademola Okulaja passes away at 46

Former UNC men's basketball player Ademola Okulaja has died at the age of 46. Okulaja played for the Tar Heels from 1995 to 1999 and went on to have a successful career with the German national team.

Former UNC men's basketball player Ademola Okulaja has passed away at the age of 46. While the cause of death is unknown at this time, Okulaja has previously battled cancer.

Hailing from Berlin, Okulaja was a 6-foot-9 forward who graduated from UNC in 1999. In his senior year, Okulaja was named the MVP of the UNC squad and received All-ACC honors. During his time at UNC, Okulaja played on two Final Four teams in 1997 and 1998, alongside other greats such as Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter. 

In his professional career, Okulaja played for many Euroleague teams, most recently for the German professional team Brose Bamberg. Okulaja also competed in two FIBA World Championships as captain of the German national team and was a bronze medalist in 2002.

After retiring from basketball in 2010, Okulaja put his MBA from UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School to work, running the entertainment company StreetLife International and sports consulting firm Pro4Pros. Okulaja represented clients such as Houston Rockets guard Dennis Schröder and Boston Celtics forward Daniel Theis.

Okulaja leaves behind a wife and two sons.


@dthsports |

Shelby Swanson

Shelby Swanson is the 2023-24 sports editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as an assistant sports editor and senior writer. Shelby is a junior pursuing a double major in media and journalism and Hispanic literatures and cultures.