‘Freedom’ will be his last name while Kanter will remain his middle name
The Swiss-born and Turkish-raised Boston Celtics player shared a video of his oath-taking ceremony on Monday. After taking his oath, he waved a miniature American flag and said “Freedom, that’s it,” while signing the naturalisation document.
“I am proud to be an American. Greatest nation in the world. The Land of the free, and home of the brave,” the 29-year-old wrote on Twitter.
The NBA star said “Freedom” will be his last name and Kanter the middle. He added that his new name comes from what his teammates have been calling him.
“(Freedom) is the one thing that in my whole life I have tried to fight for. Freedom is the greatest thing that a human being can have. That’s why I wanted to make that a part of me and carry it wherever I go,” he told CNN.
The Celtics player added: “When I came to America, to me it was so amazing because here there is freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of the press.”
“I didn’t have any of those with Turkey.”
His new last name “Freedom” will be on his jersey when the Celtics face off against Philadelphia later this week.
He grew up in Turkey before moving to the US to pursue a career in basketball during his teen years. He is known for speaking out against Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom he called a dictator.
He earlier said his Turkish passport was revoked in 2017 due to his activism. In 2019, Turkish authorities filed an international arrest warrant for allegedly having links with groups involved in a failed 2016 coup.
The NBA star has also been vocal in supporting Tibetan independence and criticising Chinese treatment of the Uyghur community.
He has worn specially designed shoes that say “Free Tibet” during his games and often tried to raise awareness about China’s treatment of Tibet and Hong Kong.
In October, he called for a boycott of the 2022 Beijing winter Olympics over China’s clampdown on minorities.
“The genocidal Chinese government and the insecure tyrant behind it all Xi Jinping must not be allowed to host the upcoming Winter Olympics,” he had tweeted.
“Say NO to Beijing 2022,” he added.