January 14, 2014 5:52 pm
Updated: January 14, 2014 9:13 pm

Rising basketball star credits Calgary police for his success


CALGARY- Wil Konybai was only nine-years-old when he arrived in Calgary with his family from Sudan.

Now 18, he has been through more troubles than many will experience in a lifetime.

“My mom and my dad– they haven’t been together since I was four-years-old because there was a war in Sudan that split the family apart. So my dad stayed in the north and my mom went to the south with us.”

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Konybai came to Canada as a refugee with his mother and three brothers. He couldn’t speak English and his mother wasn’t able to work because of health problems.

The family received social assistance and to help out, Konybai got his first job as a dishwasher at a restaurant when he was only 12.

The lure of quick cash and crime was always there and his older brother had already gotten into some trouble.

READ MORE: Successful program keeps high-risk youth out of gangs

That’s when Cst. Sean Lynn of the Calgary Police Youth at Risk Development Program (YARD) came into the family’s life.

Lynn had an important question for Konybai.

“I sell it to them – what do you need to succeed?  We’ll try and help you find that.”

It turns out the answer for Konybai, was basketball.  He became a skilled player, thanks to some help from YARD.

“We’ve helped him with his travel documents and permanent resident card so he can travel to the U.S. where he went and played some tournaments this past summer,” says Lynn.

The results of the program speak for themselves.

“It is very, very rewarding,” says Lynn. “I’m starting my 25th year of policing and it’s some of the most rewarding work I’ve done in my career.”

And Lynn will always have a fan in Konybai.

“They basically motivated me to good things, they were there for me, like a father figure, in particular Sean. He always picked me up when I was feeling down.

“God has a purpose for everything that has been brought to my life.”

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