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Deng Delivers in Blazer Blue

Ring Deng is a 6-foot-6 sophomore forward on Dallas College’s North Lake nationally ranked men’s basketball team. Deng’s parents fled from South Sudan in 2002 to North Texas due to the country’s second civil war. They now make their home in Grand Prairie — a long way from Sudan.

“They always said, if it wasn’t for the wars and stuff, they would’ve stayed,” Deng said. “My mom loves it there. She’s always trying to take us back every summer. We were supposed to go last December, but when my brother passed, we couldn’t go.”

He has never been to his family’s homeland. His grandma is going blind, and his mom longs for the opportunity to take her son and siblings there to see her. Family fables are his pipeline to South Sudan.

“I hear the stories,” Deng said. “I’m part of the culture. I know the language. We still have meetings and parties here for the appreciation of South Sudan. I’ve got a respect for it. I know my tribe, and I know I’ve got to represent for it.”

For Ring, or Ringo, as he’s affectionately known, home is North Texas. It is the place he was born. He graduated from South Grand Prairie High School, where he became a First Team All-District 8-6A selection as a senior. Yet, while home is Dallas for Deng, he is linked to his family’s Sudanese roots in many ways.

Deng thinks it’s natural for people to routinely make the correlation he’s from South Sudan based on his darker skin color. North Lake second-year head coach Josh Mills says many Sudanese-born, tall, slender athletic types fit a common basketball player prototype. But, in Deng’s case, the love for the game was a gradual process. It took a few years for the sport to grow on him.

As a child, he was always playing outside but didn’t start playing until seventh or eighth grade. His older brother, Maluw Deng, introduced him to the game. They used to venture off to Sallye Moore Elementary School in Grand Prairie to hone their skills on the outdoor court. Neighborhood residents would flock to play there too — some just to watch.

Coach Mills saw Ring’s potential right out of South Grand Prairie High School.

“What also was really attractive about Ring is his length,” Mills said. “He can guard any position. Any time he would get switched on screens, I would be comfortable and confident in his ability to guard (players) bigger and smaller than he is.”

Heaven on Hardcourt

In early December 2022, a month into Ring’s freshman season at North Lake, Maluw passed away in his sleep. It was sudden. There were no warning signs for the 24-year-old older brother, who played two seasons at Concordia University in Austin, Texas.

Deng’s North Lake teammates and coaches attended the Sudanese candlelight ceremony at South Grand Prairie High. Those who came to show their respect brought different colored balloons, and used paper lanterns lit up by candles, which were lifted into the sky with well wishes and positive vibes to symbolize Maluw being carried into heaven. Mills also attended the funeral. 

“The day it happened, everybody was texting me to make sure I was OK,” Ring said of the support he received from his team. “Every time I came to practice, they welcomed me with open arms. It was never, like, sad. It was always a joyful area to be around.”

He’ll never forget the support his Blazer teammates showered him with during the tough times.

Despite Maluw’s passing, Deng didn’t lose his sense of the present. He missed a couple games for family reasons but continued to take care of his responsibilities. He never asked for a pass, never made excuses, and continued to grind academically and athletically.

“I told him to take as much time as he needed, but he wanted to be around us,” Mills said. “I think he really wants to do something that would make his brother proud of him, which he’s going to be proud of him, no matter what.”

Deng has soaked up every minute representing the Blazers. His performance and commitment to the team have not gone unnoticed.

“I think it would be tough to win without Ring on the court. And not even on the court, but just around because of his leadership presence,” Mills said.

This article was written by Jim McCurdy.

Published inSportsUncategorized