‘The cards were stacked against him’ Ekow Boye-Doe’s unlikely journey from Ghana to Super Bowl filled with resiliency

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LAS VEGAS (KSNT) – Ekow Boye-Doe’s parents despised the idea of their son playing football.

“We really didn’t want him to play,” Ekow’s mother, Valentina Boye-Doe told 27 News in a one-on-one interview in Vegas. “The first time I saw football on TV it was like ‘What the heck?! What kind of game is this?'”

Ekow’s two older brothers, twins Panyin and Kakra, were not allowed to play football. The Boye-Doe family moved to America, specifically to Lawrence, Kansas, from Ghana in West Africa. American football, or sports of any kind, really, were not part of their family’s culture.

“The three principles in the house? Education, education, education,” Valentina said.

“[In] my family tree we are engrossed on education,” Kofi Boye-Doe, Ekow’s dad said. “If you ask anybody that knows me they will say ‘Boye-Doe is all about eduacation.’ So, why would you play football?”

Kakra became a doctor, Panyin an accountant. Kofi was hoping Ekow would become a lawyer to round out quite the scholarly trio of sons.

“It would’ve completed my dream of bringing my kids to America,” Kofi said. “America is the land of opportunity… I wanted to experiment and see if I could get these kids to the level that I wanted to get to.”

Ekow’s dream wasn’t to become a lawyer, however. His older brothers both noticed his talent through neighborhood games of various kinds.

“He was always the fastest kid around,” Panyin said. “I thought he had the skill level and athleticism to actually compete and be good at it.”

The sales pitch began to mom and dad. It involved a next-door neighbor, a coach who saw potential and… a fundraising campaign. All in an effort to get Ekow, who’s friends and family call him Pak, on the field.

“Our neighbor, Christopher, he played football so they tried to get Pak n the team,” Panyin said.

“Ekow’s football coach Dave Conway… the Conway family is the reason why Ekow plays football,” Kofi said.

While neighbors, coaches and brothers had convinced Ekow’s parents to let him give football a shot, they certainly weren’t going to fork over hundreds of dollars for him to play a sport they weren’t fond of.

“With Lawrence football league it was $200 to play,” Panyin said. “Coming from Ghana, money was obviously an issue so [Kakra and I] were always having to go door-to-do to sell the cards for Pak and help him out because he was a really shy kid so he wasn’t trying to go up to strangers and sell the football cards.”

The twins, on behalf of younger brother, sold gift card to various restaurants as part of a fundraising campaign to make sure Ekow could play.

The story of adversity didn’t stop when Pak hit the field.

“He’s from Lawrence, he came to America when he was three years old,” Kofi said. “He wanted to go to KU.”

With a desire to play Power Five football in his new home, Boye-Doe never got that opportunity.

“I specifically went to talk to the [KU] coaches begging them like ‘Can you give this kid a shot?'”

KU, who had a different coaching staff at the time of Boye-Doe’s high school recruitment, gave him an offer after K-State but never did much recruiting, Ekow’s dad said.

He wasn’t highly recruited out of high school, but made a name for himself over the span of five seasons with Kansas State. Once again, his path got no easier.

Ekow and his family gathered on draft day for three days from April 27-29 in 2023.

“We were anticipating him getting his name called, at the least getting a free agent contract so that was a really bummer day for us,” Panyin said.

When the phone call didn’t come and his name didn’t show up on the TV from the draft, which was being held in Kansas City, his parents began to again wonder if football was the right path.

“After the draft, I saw my son… he was so devastated,” Valentina said. “I look at him and I’m like ‘Okay son… what is the next step for plan B?’ He goes ‘FOOTBALL MOM.'”

To Ekow, football was plan A, plan B and plan C.

The Chiefs extended a rookie minicamp invite to keep his dream alive, at least temporarily.

“Obviously that was an opportunity but only two people who got invited got the contract so the odds were stacked against him,” Panyin said.

Boye-Doe was released during the final preseason roster cuts but signed to the practice squad shortly after. Then, in late November, he was promoted to the Chiefs active roster.

He even made a big-play by downing a punt at the one-yard-line for the Chiefs in Foxborough when they beat the Patriots.

Now, Pak has a chance to become just the fourth Ghanian player to ever win a Super Bowl ring. It’s all thanks to a young kid in Lawrence, and his older brothers, who refused to take no for an answer.

“It’s been a fun journey but the cards were stacked against him, I don’t think he was supposed to be here,” Panyin said.

Ekow’s first year of pro football just might be a small picture into his whole journey.

“I think it symbolizes his whole life, honestly,” Panyin said. “He’s always been pretty skinny, pretty scrawny. He’s always had to work that extra mile to be able to get where he’s at. This is a perfect symbolization of just putting your head down and working hard and going for what you want.”

The impact he has an opportunity to make, his dad says, is global.

“I don’t think Chiefs nation knows what they’ve done to their franchise,” Kofi said. “By giving Ekow a chance, this has gone worldwide. If you go overseas, my friends all over the world- Australia, Canada, England, Germany- even Ghana. It’s crazy. The whole country [of Ghana] is watching the Chiefs game just because of Ekow.”

“I think that Ekow playing in the Super Bowl is going to elevate this game worldwide… his story is a cinderella story.”

Kofi believes Ekow’s story is one that can send the right message to any young person from any country with just one prerequisite: A dream.

“That story is remarkable, and it’s not only for Ekow and for Ghanaians and for people internationally,” Kofi said. “It’s also telling every young kid that whatever your talent is, if you work hard you are going to be recognized.”

When asked to provide a summary of Ekow’s journey, Kofi used a repetitive list similar to the ‘education’ principles of their family.

“Resilience, resilience, resilience, resilience.”

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