The Incredibly Inspiring Story of BEN OMALU

Stories That Touch


Bennet Omalu is a Nigerian-American physician, forensic pathologist, and neuropathologist who was the first to discover and publish findings of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Bennet Omalu was born in Nnokwa, Idemili South, Anambra in southeastern Nigeria, in September 1968. The sixth of seven siblings, He was born during the Nigerian Civil War, which caused his family to flee from their home in Enugu-Ukwu . They returned to their village two years after Omalu’s birth.

Omalu’s mother was a seamstress and his father a civil mining engineer and community leader in Enugu-Ukwu. Bennet had his primary and secondary education in Federal Government College in Enugu. He attended medical school starting at age 16 at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) in June 1990, he completed a clinical internship, followed by three years of service work doctoring in the mountainous city of Jos. He became disillusioned with Nigeria after presidential candidate, Moshood Abiola failed to win the Nigerian presidency following an inconclusive election in 1993 and He began to search for scholarship opportunities in the United States.

Today, Bennet Omalu is an internationally acclaimed Nigerian-American physician, forensic pathologist, and neuropathologist who is regarded as the first to discover and publish findings of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) by examining American football players while working at the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office in Pittsburgh.

Excited that He had made a life saving discovery, He reached out to the NFL. Instead of recognition and partnership to help him further his research, they threatened him and ordered him to retract his ground breaking research. They saw his work as a threat to the NFL, as a threat to the game. In the midst of the brouhaha, His wife lost her pregnancy, and He had to relocate to another state. Undaunted, Omalu continued his research and In the end, His work was recognized as truly life saving, wining him accolades.

He who was from an extremely poor background and family rose to the top of his career, bagging several awards and degrees.

Omalu holds eight advanced degrees and board certifications, later receiving: fellowships in pathology and neuropathology through the University of Pittsburgh in 2000 and 2002 respectively, a Masters in Public Health (MPH) & Epidemiology in 2004 from University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University in 2008.

Omalu is currently chief medical examiner of San Joaquin County, California and is a professor in the UC Davis Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

We chose Benet Omalu as our feature on this week’s episode of ‘stories that touch’ because Omalu never allowed his background to put his back on the ground. The fact that He was from a poor background could have discouraged him, instead, it made him stronger. Omalu did not relent in his educational career and he sought for and seized opportunities till He became successful.
The incredibly inspiring story of his life has now been adapted into a 2015 movie starring Will Smith: CONCUSSION.

Regardless of where you are from, your dreams are valid. Never, ever give up on your dreams, go all out to pursue your dreams. If you can dream it, you can do it. Who knows, maybe the next Hollywood blockbuster will be based on the story of your life.

Touched by his story? Let us know what your thoughts in the comments section. Thank you.

Published by Ogunbowale Olugbenga

Ogunbowale Olugbenga is a multiple award winning social entrepreneur & digital skills expert. An alumnus of the Leadership in Business Institute of Kellogg School of Management (USA), He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Obafemi Awolowo University (Nigeria). Inspired by the plight of millions of unemployed youths, Olugbenga founded, a digital agency passionately growing businesses & accelerating the application of digital skills for economic prosperity across Africa. To help institutions prevent scandals & promote performance, Gbenga founded Polivoice.Work, an anonymous employee feedback tool that captures & analyses feedback anonymously in real time to detect, predict & improve work place conditions. A Mandela Washington Fellow, Tony Elumelu Fellow, Royal Common wealth society fellow, YALI star of business & YALI network influencer, Olugbenga is the founder of Africa’s biggest orphanage outreach, The Orphan Empowerment Society, with a 5,000 strong volunteer force and a presence in 19 African countries empowering thousands of orphans with free vocational skills, medical care, & food. He is also the co-founder of the communication & leadership organization, Pacesetters Leadership Club.

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