31 March 2009

Goran Suton Helps Put Spartans in NCAA Final Four

Unique Bosnian Childhood

SOS boy from Bosnia with basketball
Bosnian boy from SOS Children's Villages shows his love for basketball. 

March 31, 2009: Bosnian-born basketball player Goran Suton scored big on Sunday, propelling Michigan State’s team into the NCAA Final Four. The six-foot-ten, 245-pound senior center scored 19 points and snared 10 rebounds against Big East winner University of Louisville. Michigan State’s Spartans will face off against University of Connecticut next weekend in Detroit.  

Suton’s childhood sets him apart from his fellow players. He grew up in Sarajevo and was six years old when war broke out in 1992. Forced to flee home under crossfire, his family left Bosnia by military plane for Belgrade, Serbia. They returned home a few years later to find their house ravaged by fire and bullets. Shooting hoops was dangerous because of land mines planted in the tall grass surrounding his backyard basketball court. The mines already had taken off the legs of some of his neighbors.

His family’s presence was unwelcome, even after war ended in 1995. His father was a Catholic Croat, his mother a Greek Orthodox Serb, and mixed marriages faced great hostility. In 2000, when Suton was fourteen years old, his family moved again, this time emigrating to Lansing, Michigan, where his father had relatives. The youth became a star basketball player at Everett High School, where Magic Johnson had also attended school.  After Suton’s game on Sunday, Johnson went onto the court to congratulate the Michigan State team.

Earlier this year, Suton told an Associated Press reporter, "I'm lucky my parents worked so hard to provide me with what I needed and we moved as a family when we needed to because of war."  Not all Bosnian children are as fortunate as Goran Suton.

SOS Children’s Villages Provides Homes for Bosnian Orphans

Bosnia is part of the Balkan country now known as Bosnia and Herzegovina, which gained its independence during the Yugoslav war that Goran Suton witnessed as a child. Many children lost their parents during that bitter ethnic war. Fortunately, SOS Children’s Villages, the world’s largest charity devoted to providing warm homes to orphaned and abandoned children, has been there to help.

With the war still in progress, in 1994 SOS negotiated with authorities to provide financial support to Bosnian foster families willing to take in orphans.  By 1996, SOS had laid the cornerstone in Sarajevo, at what would become the first SOS Children's Village in that country.  SOS now has two Villages including one in  Gracanica.  SOS offers loving homes, professionally trained mothers, and stable communities for children whose life prospects would otherwise be very bleak.

Watch Bosnian children play basketball at the SOS Social Center in Sarajevo.

If you would like to help a Bosnian boy or girl secure a warm home and a bright future, consider sponsoring a child.