Stuck in Libya, Texas Man Describes His Escape

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A basketball player from Houston who found himself trapped in Libya during the democratic uprisings has finally returned home.

The 23-year-old, who goes only by the name Kingsley, wound up in the region while pursuing his life-long passion -- becoming a professional basketball player.

"A lot of people don't get to play after college, so it's basically a dream come true to be playing still," Kingsley said.

He got to live out his dream by playing for exhibition teams through the Federal International Basketball Association in both Finland and most recently Libya, where he settled two months ago.  But the dream ended when tensions began mounting in the North African nation.

"If it happens here, we're all stuck. I don't speak Arabic. I don't know what to do," Kingsley said.

The Texas native knew he had to get out country when news came that Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was sending warplanes to bomb the city of Benghazi. Kingsley was living in the city at the time.

"There were no phones, no Internet, so I couldn't make any calls or anything," he recalled.
  
With his life on the line, Kinsley followed a group of Brazilian contractors to a port in Benghazi.  From there, they boarded a British naval ship with another group of Americans.  Together, they made a 36-hour journey on rough seas to Malta - all with no help from the U.S. State Department.

"Basically, they told us their job was to get us to a safe haven.  Kind of like, 'You're on your own,'" he said.
   
Kingsley was able to make it back to Houston after a harrowing journey through Cairo and Turkey.  Finally, his plane landed in New York.  He wonders how many foreigners like him are still stuck in the chaos of the uprising. 

The young man said he plans to return to Finland to play basketball, but not to Libya. Basketball, he explained, was not worth his life.
 
Meanwhile, ships continue to ferry thousands of evacuees from Libya, and the nation's borders remain flooded with people trying to escape the fighting.

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