Emmy Andujar likes to prove people wrong.
He does it on the court and he does it in his everyday life. He has made a habit out of it.
“Coming from where I’m from, there’s always a lot of doubters and people saying that people can’t go to school and people can’t do this and people can’t do that,” Andujar says. “So I felt like I just wanted to prove someone wrong. Sometimes I felt like I wasn’t even doing it for myself, I was just doing it to prove people wrong.”
This is why he plays basketball. The raw talent is there, the physique is there, but most importantly, the passion and desire are there.
Hailing from the opposite side of the Bronx, right next to Yankee Stadium and approximately 20 minutes away from Manhattan College, Andujar didn’t have it easy growing up. But it was where his love for basketball first developed.
“With all of the friends I had all around me, we always used to play basketball outside,” Andujar says. “It didn’t matter what type of weather we had. It could have been snowing and we’d just shovel and start playing.”
He did not officially start playing on a team until the summer of sixth grade. From there, his basketball career took off.
He entered Rice High School in Harlem, N.Y., as a freshman and was instantly impacted by the basketball legacy there. The high school is known for its greatness in basketball having had some pretty notable alumni, including some who have gone on to the NBA.
“It was interesting,” Andujar says about going to Rice. “I never thought I would go to an all-boys high school and be playing at a high level at that high school. It was really a shocker to me, but I was blessed to be able to go to that school and play basketball.”
As a freshman in high school, Andujar was ready to jumpstart his career.
At the time, Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker was a senior on Rice’s basketball team and preparing to pursue a pro-ball career.
For Andujar, this relationship has proven to be invaluable.
“We still keep in contact,” Andujar says. “He gives me advice here and there, and it’s just a great thing, especially since he’s in the NBA.”
In Andujar’s senior year at Rice, he led it to the 2011 CHSAA Class AA Championship game.
Among the many honors and awards Andujar received for his final year at Rice, he was named to the “New York Daily News” All-Manhattan Second Team and was recruited by Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello.
“It was a little shocking,” Andujar says about Masiello actively pursuing him, “because I figured he would go for high major players because he was coming from a great program from Louisville.”
Andujar’s humbleness was one of the many traits he possessed that attracted him to Masiello.
“Hunger. He had great passion and he had great hunger,” Masiello says. “He had a big chip on his shoulder and obviously the skillset and talent. He came from a great high school, and anytime you have someone who is as humble as he is and a great passion for what he does, it is very appealing.”
Manhattan was an appealing choice for Andujar as well.
“I figured it would be the best choice. Stay close to home and my family could come see me play,” Andujar says. “That’s the reason I really chose Manhattan.”
In his freshman season at Manhattan, Andujar was selected to the MAAC All-Rookie Team and led the team in rebounds (189) and assists (105).
In his sophomore season, Andujar led the team once again in assists (72) after appearing in every game of the regular season.
His junior season, he helped lead the team to a MAAC championship win — 12 points and five rebounds in the victory against Iona — and a bid to the 2014 NCAA Division I tournament.
As a senior, he became only the 36th player in Manhattan history to gather his 1,000th career point on January 7 against Saint Peter’s, named to the First All-MAAC Team for the first time in his career and led Manhattan to a second straight MAAC title.
Besides all of his on court accomplishments, Andujar has matured and grown as both a player and a person, says Masiello.
“He’s a father to his younger brother. He’s a husband to his mom. He is everything to everyone,” Masiello says. “That’s a lot. He’s my sanity. He kind of calms me down. He’s the big brother to the young guys. He’s a very special young man.”
Andujar’s teammates and coaches have supported him during the most trying times for him and his family. His family is currently involved in the trial of three men charged with murdering his older brother, Jose, in April of 2012, according to the “New York Daily News.”
“He appreciates every minute now because of every tragedy and everything he has seen,” Masiello says. “He has had it rough and he has overcome more things than most 45-year-old adults have, and has handled it like a professional gentleman. He’s made people better around him and I’m proud of him.”
Andujar has been juggling this and has still come out on top. He ends his career in the top 10 in points, rebounds, assists and steals in Manhattan history.
But for once, Andujar is focusing completely on himself. With graduation looming, it is easy to get wrapped up in the future, but Andujar is staying focused on the present, on what he can control.
“I’m just staying focused on what I have to do here and everything else will take care of itself,” Andujar says. “I just came here and had that mindset of working hard. I didn’t want to let the coach down. I promised him I would work hard as soon as I stepped on campus and I just wanted to keep my word to him.
For his Masiello, losing Andujar is something he does not want to think about.
“I think the thing I am going to miss the most about him is just, today it is hard to count on people,” Masiello says. “Emmy is a guy who, day in and day out, is going to be there for you and give you everything he has. That is just very rare in today’s society.”