LOS ANGELES >> Well-read and well-traveled, Lakers veteran forward Luol Deng often refrains from speaking out on political issues for a pretty simple reason.

“Once you get into that,” Deng said, “sometimes people don’t like your opinion.”

But with President Donald Trump issuing a temporary ban on non-American citizens entering the country from seven Muslim-majority countries, the South Sudanese refugee said he “felt like posting something” on his Twitter account on Monday afternoon to question a policy he called “tough.”

Deng expanded on his thoughts in more than 140 characters following the Lakers’ 120-116 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday at Staples Center. That included Trump’s justification for banning those from Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen out of terrorism concerns.

“I’ve watched the news and I’ve read a lot. If you really want to look into that, you’ve got to go into facts and what is true and what is not,” Deng said. “From what I understand, I haven’t seen a lot of refugees committing terrorist acts in this country I’m speaking about.”

Deng was born in Wau, Sudan, which became part of an independent South Sudan in 2011. Because of that distinction, Deng is not affected by Trump’s recent executive order. In addition to having dual citizenship with South Sudan and Great Britain, Deng also has a green card issued in the United States.

“I think a lot of people are confused a little bit, but South Sudan and Sudan used to be one country and now (are) separate, so the ban doesn’t really include myself,” Deng said. “But it affects me because I know a lot of people from Sudan and I know a lot of people that I grew up with who are affected by it.”

Nonetheless, Deng experienced what plenty of other refugees have endured.

After his father, Aldo Deng, served in the Sudanese parliament and as the nation’s Minister of Transportation, Luol Deng and his family fled the war-torn country to Egypt when he was 5. Although he said he’s “thankful for growing up in Egypt and I’ve learned a lot,” Deng said he and his family considered “everywhere was an option” to seek refuge.

Soon enough, Deng said he and his family “were very lucky” the United Kingdom granted them political asylum – he became a British citizen in 2006. Deng said the process toward gaining political asylum took five years before passing through multiple series of background checks. At age 14, Deng moved to the United States to attend Blair Academy, a prep school in Blairstown, N.J.

“It’s been great for me and my family,” Deng said. “I would have never had the opportunity that I have today if it wasn’t for that.”

Hence, Deng spoke out in hopes that other refugees will continue to have opportunities.

“We’ve never really asked to leave my homeland, and a lot of these people go through a lot of things that they have no control of. To really see a light at the end of the tunnel and to go towards that light and then that light is turned off is very difficult, not just individually, but for the family,” Deng said. “I know what it feels like to wait for that opportunity to come every day. My message out there was just to let everybody who is going through that to know I feel what they’re going through. Sometimes things happen that’s out of your control, and all you can do is pray and be positive for a change and just know that there’s a Mariobet lot of people out there that really feel your pain and wish you could do a lot more.”

Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried, who is Muslim, expressed frustration that not all U.S. government officials and citizens have such sympathy.

“I think it’s crazy, what’s going on,” Faried told reporters. “It’s basically messed up. Disrespectful. This country was founded on immigrants, and this country supposedly lets you have any religion, doesn’t matter. And for (Trump) to have a Muslim ban is the utmost disrespect. I’m Muslin, and I take that personally.”

It did not sound as if Deng took the ban as personally.

“I don’t think a lot of people know, it’s not something that’s out there or something you hear about every day, so I don’t blame people for that,” Deng said. “I understand it because I went through it. People that are around me know it because we speak about it and we do talk about it. At the same time, I do understand when you’re told something that’s not true and you’re told to believe other things, I understand the fear and your reaction coming out of it. If somebody told me a story and that’s all I know, I’d probably act to what I’m hearing. And whether it’s pointing things out to let people know, I don’t know what the solution is to it. But a lot of people that do support this are supporting it because of what they do believe and because of what they hear.”

So Deng raised his voice in hopes they hear his.

“I’m more than happy to take a lead and to speak about it. Everything that I’m saying is nothing personal or is nothing against anybody,” Deng said. “It’s just what I believe and how I’ve lived my life. Since day one, I’ve dedicated my life to giving to others because I know I was given an opportunity so I always try to do that.”

That explains why Deng has spent most of his 14-year NBA career giving back to those who helped him.

He created the Luol Deng Foundation, which raises funds, runs clinics and helped build outdoor basketball courts in South Sudan, the U.K. and the U.S. He has partnered with the United Nations and non-governmental organizations (UNICEF, Save the Children, Nothing but Net) that help with assorted humanitarian efforts.

While he has seen tangible results with those efforts, Deng offered a mix of uncertainty and optimism on whether his latest decision to speak up about the ban will change anything.

“I don’t know where this goes afterward,” Deng said. “We don’t know where it goes afterward. So, right now, it’s just hope and being patient and seeing where it goes. No matter what, there’s always hope. You always believe that things are going to work out, even sometimes when it seems like it’s not going to. All you can do is just hope.”

Staff writer Bill Oram contributed.

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