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Is Ilyasova A Turkish Name?


Zaza Pachulia (second from left) and Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks surround Ersan Ilyasova (center) of the Milwaukee Bucks as they battle for the ball during a 2010 NBA playoff game in Milwaukee.

Zaza Pachulia (second from left) and Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks surround Ersan Ilyasova (center) of the Milwaukee Bucks as they battle for the ball during a 2010 NBA playoff game in Milwaukee.

He stands 208 centimeters tall and has just signed a contract with the Milwaukee Bucks of the U.S. National Basketball Association for $45 million.

But was Ersan Ilyasova really born in Turkey's Eskisehir in 1987, as his official biography attests? Or is his name really Arsen Ilyasov, born in Bukhara, Uzbekistan in 1984?

Ilyasova was reportedly registered officially in Turkey by a man named Semsettin Bulut in 2002 who said he forgot to register his 15-year-old son. A Turkish investigation supposedly found no previous record of the talented youngster.

But those reports also say that an 18-year-old Uzbek, Arsen Ilyasov, had arrived in Turkey a month before and was never heard from again. This was the reason why the young player dominated other players his age at youth competitions, some said.

In fact, the Uzbek basketball federation made a formal complaint against the Turkish federation, saying Turkey had registered their player. But the International Basketball Federation ruled in Turkey's favor and his Turkish status was confirmed.

But others say that, indeed, Ilyasova was Arsen Ilyasov from Uzbekistan but that his parents were Crimean Tatars exiled to Uzbekistan by Soviet leader Josef Stalin during World War II as part of the brutal mass population transfers of the period.

What's more, his parents Enver and Iraliye Ilyasov have since returned to Crimea now that they are free to return.

Wherever he's from, Ilyasova says he's happy in Milwaukee, where he met his wife, Julia, who was born in Belarus, and where his daughters Xenia and Catherine were born.

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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