Local athlete leaves Ukraine in midst of turmoil, violence

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by Brian Farrell, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on March 6, 2014 at 6:58 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 7 at 5:35 AM

UPDATE 3/6:  Keiara Avant left the Ukraine on Wednesday and landed at Washington-Dulles airport Thursday afternoon.  Avant was one of four Americans playing basketball with a Ukrainian team.  Her family from Chesapeake was at the airport to greet her.  At the airport, Avant said "Thank God i'm home. Thank you for all your prayers. I'm so happy to be back in the states."
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CHESAPEAKE -- Keiara Avant headed to Ukraine in September to pursue her dream of playing professional basketball. 

Avant was a star player at Indian River High School before moving on to Hampton University where she continued to be a major force on the court. In 2013, she became MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) Player of the Year.

"We were ecstatic about it, I mean the opportunity to just be able to live your dream, that was our number one kind of goal for her," said Avant's sister, Keshia Brown.

With the political unrest and violence in Ukraine, Avant's safety has been a continuous concern.

"She actually saw protesters close to her apartment, so that for her was just very frightening, to be in that close proximity and be in pretty much the heat of what was going on," Brown told 13News Now. "She has for us, you know, been trying to play it like, 'You guys, I'm okay. I'll be fine,' but, you know, deep down in my spirit, I know that she still is, you know, nervous about it and frightened."

Because of the upheaval in Ukraine, the basketball season for Avant is suspended. To her family's relief, Avant will fly back to the United States, back to the safety of home.

"I can't wait to just give her a big hug and a big kiss," Brown said. "We feel like, you know, she went over there to leave her dream, and, you know, she's done that at this point. She's made history just by going to Kiev, Ukraine, and she set records even as a professional player her first season as a rookie."
 

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