The Turkish center for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Enes Kanter, changed his last name to Gülen after his parents disowned him for pledging allegiance to Pennsylvania-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blames Fethullah Gülen for the July 15th military coup against him and presses the Obama administration to extradite the former imam to Turkey so that he can face trial. For reasons unrelated to his talent, Kanter watches instead of plays for the Turkish national team in Rio.
The six-foot-eleven Kanter tweeted on Monday: “I lost my mother, father, my family and all of my relatives today. My own father asked me to change my surname. The mother who gave birth to me rejected me. My siblings, with whom I was raised with, ignore me. My relatives don’t want to see me anymore.”
The Hurriyet Daily News reported that the 24-year-old would give his life for Gülen: “My mother, father, siblings and all of my relatives can be sacrificed on Gülen’s way. I can give my head on his way. May God take from my life and give every second of it to my brave preacher.”
The Swiss-born Kanter, the 3rd overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, came under fire from the country he largely grew up in as Turkey banned his Twitter account for tweeting strong support for the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
Mehmet Kanter, Enes’s father, expressed dismay for his son’s allegiance to Gülen by claiming that his son was “hypnotized and being used by the FETÖ.” He added, “We are rejecting Enes and are asking him to change his surname.”
According to the Daily Sabah, Enes’s behavior of tweeting insults toward Erdoğan disturbs his father. Mehmet said that he had told Enes he would disown him unless he changed his ways. The two have had not contact since 2015.
“I would not have taken Enes to the U.S. for the basketball camp where his talent was discovered had I known that it would come to this point,” he regretfully said.