The news these days is often depressing at worst and frustrating at best. It’s easy to get caught up in the spin cycle and let it get us down. Never fear… The News Blender has you covered. Once a week, we feature Something Good and, in return, all you have to do is tell us something good that has happened to you this week, something you are thankful for, a joke, a cute animal story, an inspiring tale of heroics, a Random Act of Kindness… SOMETHING good.
Today we have an update on a story, a favorite of mine, from last year.
Remember Tani Adewumi, the homeless 8 year old chess prodigy? A little over a year ago, he made headlines when he won the New York State Scholastic Chess Championship. The third grader was homeless at the time, a Christian refugee fleeing from Boko Haram, and had only recently been taught to play chess in PS 116. His story was featured in the New York Times and within days a GoFundMe had raised more than a quarter of a million dollars.
Tani’s parents, Kayode and Oluwatoyin, had been offered so much help – a car, lodging, job offers, and scholarships for Tani – that they set aside a portion of the proceeds from the GoFundMe to tithe to their church but created a foundation in Tani’s name with the remainder to help other refugees from Africa. Tani remained the same bubbly, happy child through it all.
Now a year later, the family secluded in their apartment during the quarantine, Tani remains enrolled in the public school that transformed his life with chess. He plays in online chess tournaments and practices with his coach. According to ESPN, he recently reached 2200 ratings points, which propels Tani ever closer to his goal: to be the youngest grandmaster in the world. The current record is 12 years and 7 months and Tani is on track to do so. His rating last year before his story went viral was 1,200, which meant it would take him eight moves to checkmate you.
Since he last made headlines, Tani wrote an autobiography. “My Name Is Tani… And I Believe In Miracles” has been published and was released in April. In addition, Trever Noah and Paramount are making a movie about Tani’s amazing story. Tani says, “This is all so strange, but it feels wonderfully great to have a movie made out of my life.”
Chess coach Shawn Martinez saw Tani’s potential from the first time he sat down with the boy. Now, he describes Tani, known for his bold and aggressive style of play, as “between a lion and a tiger.” Martinez told NPR, “He’s not scared of anything on that board and that’s what it takes to beat the best of the best.”
It would make sense that a boy who slept through Boko Haram coming into his home and threatening his mother and who prayed for a miracle through another long night where they threatened the family with death, would not fear losing a chess game.
The Adewumis’ next asylum hearing is in 2022 and they feel profoundly thankful, if a bit incredulous, for the safety and security of their new life. A real life American dream story is definitely something good during a time of upheaval and grief – something we can all cling to when the news of the day gets us down.
Now it’s your turn… Tell me something good!