Brother's sacrifice helps Ukrainian high school basketball star shine



Posted on March 6, 2014 at 7:11 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 6 at 7:20 PM

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- A Federal Way high school student’s path to basketball success is driven by family sacrifice.

Bogdan Bliznyuk, 18, moved to Federal Way with his mom and brother in 2001 for a better life. The star forward for Todd Beamer High School credits his accomplishments on the court to the support of his family, especially his older brother Dima, 21.

“He’s been basically a father figure in my life. He provides supports with his words and financially too,” said Bogdan.

At 16, Dima Bliznyuk dropped out of school and started a full-time construction job to provide for his family and pay for Bogdan to play basketball.

“Anything that needed to be done, I felt like it was my responsibility. Whatever he needs, if I’m able to help him out I do it,” said Dima.

From paying for basketball camps to new shoes for Bogdan, Dima knew the expenses were an investment.

“I was like man, he can do something with it, he can go somewhere. So I just pushed him,” said Dima.

But according to Bogdan, his brother’s biggest gift is a strong work ethic.

“If something isn’t going good, I’m going to keep at it, keep striving to succeed,” said Bogdan.

That drive is rubbing off on his team, which considers Bogdan a family member.

“He’s an A student, but he has A+ character,” said Winston Bell, his coach.“Whether it’s playing basketball, playing for the country of Ukraine or straight into business I know he’s going to be successful.”

With his home country facing threats of war, Bogdan hopes his people take a similar approach.

“You can’t let anything stop you, any difficulties, any bad situation, any person. You can’t let anyone pull you back from what you’re trying to accomplish,” said Bogdan.

Bogdan’s team faces Gonzaga Prep in the first round of the 4A State Basketball Championship Thursday night.