NFLer Arie Kouandjio, MLBer Ubaldo Jimenez become U.S. citizens

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Washington Redskins offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio and his family emigrated from Cameroon when he was 6 years old. Tuesday, Kouandjio completed another part of that journey -- by becoming an American citizen.

Kouandjio's father survived a civil war near his African village as a child -- sometimes hiding out in the forest to protect himself and his baby sister. Eventually, though, the Kouandjios came to America, where the boys were enrolled in private schools.

Both Arie and his younger brotherCyrus, a starting tackle for Buffalo, ended up graduating from DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Maryland.

Arie Kouandjio has worked at both guard and tackle since camp opened for the Redskins, but the second-year lineman was inactive for Monday's 38-16 loss to Pittsburgh.

Perhaps most important to Kouandjio is that he is no longer inactive in U.S. politics.

"Before, all I could do is just watch CNN or just watch Fox or just watch; I wasn't a participating member in all decisions," he told the Washington Post. "I [still] can't be the president, which is something that I've always wanted to do, but I can do other things, so it's awesome."

Given the political climate and that some of his NFL peers have taken to protest during the playing of the national anthem, Kouandjio was asked his thoughts on the matter.

"Like many people have pointed out, people fought for their rights to do that," Kouandjio told the newspaper. "They have the right to do what they're doing. I mean, they're using their platform in a different way, to get their values across. That's part of what America is."

Kouandjio wasn't the only professional athlete to become an American citizen this week, as Baltimore Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez was naturalized on Monday.

Jimenez's citizenship ceremony was in Miami. The 32-year-old Dominican-born pitcher later took to Instagram to celebrate the occasion.

Signed as an international free agent at the age of 17, Jimenez is in his 11th season in the majors.

Information from ESPN's John Keim contributed to this report.