12/27/2017 11:48:14 AM

US basketball star rebounds from arrest with Iraq national team

US basketball star rebounds from arrest with Iraq national team

Baghdad, Iraq: DeMario Mayfield feared his basketball career was over when he was arrested on suspicion of planning a robbery, but the former US college star is now bouncing back -- in war-torn Iraq.

Originally from Georgia in America's deep south, the 6 foot 5 inch player is the latest banner addition to Iraq's national team after taking citizenship following a 2015 club move to Baghdad.

"I will forever be grateful for the opportunity that I have had presented to me," said Mayfield. "It has been nothing but love since the day I arrived."

Mayfield's prospects looked grim back in 2013 when the one-time University of North Carolina and University of Georgia star was arrested in his home state for conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

"Right then and there I thought it was the end," he said. "But then I realised I just had to trust myself and dig myself out of the hole."

In the end, he pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of possessing a firearm and served 10 months on a work-release programme -- before eventually being given another chance by Angelo State in Texas.

But after finishing there he got no interest from clubs in the US or Europe until an offer from an unlikely source -- Baghdad's Oil Club -- came along.

"I had friends in this league before I came. They persuaded me to come here. We did a lot of talking before coming," Mayfield said.

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