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Milwaukee’s Arike Ogunbowale made lightning strike twice en route to an NCAA title, then took time out to talk with us about her whirlwind spring.

You know things are going well when you hit a buzzer-beating basket to win a national championship and that might not even be the best thing that happens to you that month.

Such is the whirlwind life of Arike Ogunbowale, the Milwaukee Divine Savior Holy Angels High School grad who began April with the shot that won a title for Notre Dame, two days after a nearly identical shot that eliminated women’s basketball superpower Connecticut. A few tweets with former NBA star Kobe Bryant followed, then an appearance on “Ellen” including a surprise meeting with Bryant, then “Dancing With the Stars.” There’s a good reason Ogunbowale’s summer plans don’t veer much beyond summer school, working out and – when possible – not doing much at all. She’s earned it.

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What was this spring like for you?

It’s been pretty crazy. A lot of media attention, a lot of people asking for autographs. If I go out to get something to eat, there’s usually always someone who says, “Great job” or something. It’s died down a little bit.

Do you ever stop and think, “What the heck just happened to me?”

It took a couple days after the Final Four for all that to settle in, but it’s still been pretty unreal. Then after that, that was pretty crazy, too. Not many people get to go on “Ellen,” and not many people get a chance to meet someone they’ve watched their whole life and modeled parts of their game after.

What would your advice be to a little girl in Milwaukee who wants to grow up to be you?

Follow your dreams, do what you love, do what makes you happy and have fun. And don’t let anyone tell you anything different.

Did anyone ever try to tell you not to follow your dreams?

Nah. Even if they [had], I wouldn’t have listened.


“Best of the Fest” appears in the June 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning April 285h, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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