With the 141st overall selection in the fifth round of this year’s NFL Draft, the New York Jets selected Oday Aboushi, an athletic offensive tackle from the University of Virginia (UVA), Charlottesville, Va.
But before Aboushi suited up for the Cavaliers, he was a stalwart along the offensive line for the Clippers of Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge, from 2005-2009. His selection marks the first time in Xaverian’s 19-year football history that a former player has been drafted by an NFL team.
Aboushi, 21, was one of only 240 college football players selected in the draft – though more than 300,000 student-athletes play football each year. Though he was ecstatic when he received the call notifying him of the selection, he said the feeling didn’t really sink in until the following Monday morning.
“I woke up that morning and just said, ‘Wow, I’m a Jet. I’m a New York Jet.’ It was a crazy feeling,” he said.
Standing at six-feet six-inches tall and 310 pounds, Aboushi certainly has the mold to be an NFL lineman. But it’s been his makeup and upbringing that have allowed him to thrive at every level.
Born in Sunset Park, Aboushi is the ninth of 10 children born to Palestinian parents, who immigrated to the States from the town of Beit Hanina in the West Bank. Among the children, there are three lawyers, two doctors, a college professor, an accountant, a nurse and now an NFL player.
“My family has always been about hard work, perseverance and dedication to anything that we do,” Aboushi said. “My parents always put a big emphasis on giving 100 percent to anything we did.”
Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan was on the line when Aboushi received the phone call, but the former Clipper said he couldn’t hear a word Ryan was saying, since his siblings were all yelling with excitement.
Coincidentally, when Aboushi played pee-wee football in Parkville, his team was the Jets. He said he’s looking forward to having his family support system so close to him as he begins his pro career.
“I think that just puts a cherry on top of everything,” Aboushi said. “My goal was always to be in the NFL. To be able to play for my hometown team and to be able to see my family members right in my backyard is honestly just a blessing how it’s all worked out.”
Aboushi is a practicing Muslim whose strong faith has played a major role in his life. He said he felt very comfortable being surrounded by people of faith in Xaverian’s Catholic environment.
“Being in a Catholic school even though I wasn’t Catholic, I was constantly reminded of my faith and religion,” he said. “I learned so much about my religion as well as the Catholic religion. They have the same morals and same values. It helped me to grow as a person and grow in my religion.”
Aboushi will join only a handful of NFL players who are of Palestinian descent. Throughout all of his success, he’s remained humble and said he will still rely on his faith moving forward with his career.
To do that, he will not soon forget how his family’s emphasis on hard work has led him to this point. He said rookies in the NFL always have a lot to prove, but he’s eager to put in the necessary – and extra – time to make an immediate impact with “Gang Green.”
“The work never ends no matter where you are,” Aboushi said. “If you want to be the best, you have to maintain it. Now with the opportunity that I have, the best thing I can do is continue to work hard, give it all I got and continue to let God do what He has planned for me.”