ian-mahinmi_web.jpgSpecial to South Florida Times

It’s a long way from Paris to Miami.  But, for the Mahinmis, it was worth it to see their son Ian’s team, the Dallas Mavericks, defeat the Miami Heat to win the NBA championship at the AmericanAirlines Arena on Sunday night.

Mom, dad, brother and sister came upon a sea of “White Hot” Heat fans when they got off a luxury bus but that did not matter. Their journey from Africa to Jamaica and to France and now the United States culminated in one of the best nights of theirs lives.

They were on hand to see the Mavericks beat the Heat 105-95 to take the championship, winning four games in the best-of-seven series. Ian played 11 minutes and scored four points.

“This was surely a night that I will never forget. It was unbelievable,” Ian, 24, said in a phone interview from Dallas Wednesday morning. “We didn’t leave the [victory] party [on South Beach] until 6 or 7 a.m. It was so much fun!”

Ian’s parents, Alfred and Sonia, became celebrities in their own right during the championship series.  During the crucial Game 5 in Dallas, when Ian had a memorable play-off performance, commentators talked about the Mahinmis story.

Alfred, 65, an African native, migrated to France, where he became a teacher and began to help others who came to the country seeking a better life, with little resources, not knowing the language or how to find their way around in a foreign land.  Alfred Mahinmi was their source for help.

Ian said his father helped everybody — other Africans, Chinese and others from around the world seeking freedom and prosperity in France.

“My father helped everyone. It’s amazing,” said Ian. 

While working and helping others to navigate their way in a strange land, Alfred Mahinmi met his future wife, Sonia, who was a student of his from Jamaica. They eventually married and started a family.

“Isn’t that an amazing story,” said Ian, laughing.

On Sunday, the Mahinmis rejoiced in the Florida sunshine. Joined by his sister; Julie, 28, and brother; Jason, 11, and their parents, they found themselves sharing yet another amazing chapter in their lives.

“I feel so blessed to have this happen to us,” said Ian. “But it’s not just about me. It’s my teammates and the entire Mavericks organization. There are so many Hall of Fame players who have never gotten a ring. And to have this at such a young age – I am blessed. I am just so grateful. I am blessed with wonderful parents and an amazing family.”

Daphne Taylor may be reached at daphnetaylor_49@hotmail.com.