YES Programs



Off the Court Encounters at a Wizards vs Suns Game

Amer and Jusuf posing together 1

By Amer Mahmutovic (YES 2023-2024, Bosnia and Herzegovina, placed by AFS in Silver Spring, MD)

I always dreamed of coming to America and now that dream was going to become reality. From the day when I received the acceptance letter for the YES program, I was aware of all the great experiences that I would have during my exchange year. One of the things on my bucket list was to watch an NBA game live.

Amer and Host Dad at Basketball Stadium 1

Being placed near Washington, D.C., it was a feasible reality. My host dad and I decided that we would go to see the Washington Wizards vs. Phoenix Suns game, because of Jusuf Nurkić, a Bosnian NBA player who is a center for the Phoenix Suns. The night before the game, we bought two tickets and were excited to see my compatriot playing at the highest basketball level. Before I went to bed, I got an idea to try my luck and message Jusuf and tell him that we would be at the game and ask him to meet after the game and take a picture.

When I woke up the next morning, I could not believe what I was seeing on my phone. Jusuf responded to my message and told me that he would send us the tickets for the game and that he was more than happy to meet us after the game. I do not remember when the last time was that I was that excited, and I immediately went to my host family to tell them what was happening.

Amer and Phoenix Suns Coach

We got the two tickets behind the Phoenix Suns bench, and I got the opportunity to have a best experience of my life. Every time Jusuf scored points or made a good play, everyone was able to see the blue and yellow Bosnian flag waiving from the stands behind the Phoenix Suns bench. After the end of the great game for Jusuf and his team, I saw some other Bosnian flags near my seats. While Jusuf was going to the locker room, he saw us and told the security to let us go to the court and meet with him. It was packed and security did not let every one of us go to him, so he decided to come to the stands with us. I was so excited that I do not even remember how everything happened, but I was able to take a picture and talk with him. Because of all my excitement in the morning, I even forgot to bring a pen so that he could sign me something. Luckily for me, one of the other fans had the pen with them, so I was able to borrow it and Jusuf was able to sign my flag. Jusuf also sent me and my host dad the two Post-Game Pass tickets, and we were able to meet his coach and some of his teammates after the game.

This day was one of the best days of my life, and it will always be deeply etched in my memory forever. Jusuf once again showed how great he is as a person and an athlete, and I will be thankful to him for this day for my entire life. He helped me to understand the meaning of the quote that says: “No matter how cool, talented, educated, or rich you think you are, how you treat people tells all. Integrity is everything.”

I am thankful to the YES program and my placement organization, AFS-USA for allowing me the opportunity to have all these incredible experiences and stories that I will remember for my entire life.