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Arike, Dare Ogunbowale share ‘special’ sibling relationship

Scott Procter Scott Procter BVM Sports Senior Editor/Journalist

HOUSTON (BVM) – As Arike Ogunbowale’s fourth WNBA season comes to a close, her brother, Dare, is on the verge of beginning his sixth season in the NFL. It’s not often that you see a brother-sister duo both in the primes of their respective professional careers — let alone in the same state – but Arike and Dare aren’t your typical siblings.

Born to a father, Gregory, who migrated from Nigeria, and a mother, Yolanda, who broke softball records at DePaul, Arike and Dare owe much of their personal and athletic success to their hard-working parents.

“My dad was definitely on us when we were younger as far as working hard and being real attentive to details,” Dare said. “Then my mom, she was just the athlete; she was the one that we got all of our God-given abilities from.”

“They put us in track, basketball, soccer and we were traveling every single weekend,” Arike said. “Obviously, at that age, you don’t have to do that but they dedicated pretty much their whole lives to us and everything we wanted to do so that’s why we’re successful now.”

Arike and Dare certainly are successful now by anybody’s standards, even if their paths to pro sports were much different.

Dare walked onto the University of Wisconsin football team as a cornerback after graduating from Marquette (Milwaukee) High School in 2013 but eventually switched to playing running back. The move proved to be an excellent one as Dare went on to rack up over 2,000 total yards and 15 total touchdowns across his last three seasons with the Badgers. In his senior year, Dare racked up 714 yards from scrimmage, six total touchdowns and was voted team captain.

The Houston Texans signed him as an undrafted free agent the following year on May 16, 2017, and it was around this time that Dare and Arike’s bond strengthened despite their very dissimilar collegiate journeys.

While Dare walked on at Wisconsin, Arike led Divine Savior Holy Angels High School (Milwaukee) to the WIAA Division I title where she averaged 27.2 points per game and scored 55 points in a semifinal game against an undefeated team. She was named 2015 Wisconsin Miss Basketball and a McDonald’s High School All-American before embarking on a legendary collegiate career at Notre Dame.

After averaging 11.4 points as a reserve player in her freshman season with the Fighting Irish, Arike became a regular starter as a sophomore before becoming a flat-out star as a junior. She helped Notre Dame win the 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament by making game-winning shots in both the semifinal and national championship games. Arike averaged 20.3 points per game that season and was named the ACC Female Athlete of the Year across all sports, sharing honors with Louisville’s Lamar Jackson.

“I would say once she (Arike) got to college, we just became really, really close,” Dare said. “Arike’s just one of those ones that was born with a bunch of athletic ability, a bunch of talent, but for some reason, still decided to work harder than everybody. Just seeing how talented she was while still having that crazy grind, it was just obvious that nobody was going to be able to touch her. Fast forward now, she’s doing exactly what we all thought she would.”

Although Arike and Dare have been close for years now, 2022 marks the first year in a while that the siblings will be actually close in proximity to each other.

Arike just wrapped up her fourth season with the WNBA’s Dallas Wings where she has already accomplished more than most hoopers can only dream of. The fifth overall pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft made the WNBA All-Rookie Team in 2019 before becoming the WNBA scoring champion (22.8 points per game) in just her second professional season. She was the WNBA All-Star Game MVP in 2021 and is already a two-time All-Star for Dallas.

But the 2022 season was an up-and-down one for Arike and the Wings. After back-to-back losses to the Chicago Sky in mid-July that left them four games under .500 (11-15), the Wings won six of their next seven games to finish the regular season at 18-18 and earn a playoff berth. Arike missed the final four games of the regular season and first two games of the Wings’ first-round playoff series against the Connecticut Sun after suffering an abdominal injury during a win over the Indiana Fever on Aug. 6. She underwent an iliac crest core muscle avulsion repair a few days later and returned for Game 3 of the first-round series with it tied up at one game apiece.

Arike was still hampered by the injury upon her return, evidenced by her absence from the starting lineup and ability to play just six minutes of game time off the bench. Despite the relatively disappointing end to the season — and averaging 19.7 points per game, good for third in the WNBA this season — Arike’s main focus moving forward is helping the franchise win its first playoff series since 2009 (when it was the Detroit Shock — two relocations ago).

“Getting a championship, honestly, I think that’s everybody’s goal,” Arike said. “That’s a real goal, to get a championship in Dallas and bring one to the organization.”

Approximately 250 miles south, her brother is back where his NFL journey began.

After signing with the Texans as an undrafted free agent out of Wisconsin, Dare had practice squad stints with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins before returning to Tampa Bay in 2018. He had his best pro season in 2019 with the Buccaneers when he was voted to be a team captain, appeared in all 16 games and finished the year with 35 catches for 286 receiving yards and two rushing touchdowns.

Dare spent the next two seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars — compiling 323 total yards, two touchdowns and 18 total tackles on special teams – before returning to Houston in March on a two-year, $3.3 million deal with the Texans.

“Our relationship is special, especially with him now being in Houston; he’s come to a lot of my home games, “Arike said of Dare. “We’re pretty much together all the time whenever we can be. Every year I got older, he just became one of my best friends and I pretty much go to him about everything. He’s a mentor, best friend, big brother, role model.”

Dare is also still a very good football player, too. He could end up carving out a role in the Texans’ backfield this season since no clear front-runner has emerged among veterans Marlon Mack, Rex Burkhead and Florida rookie Dameon Pierce. Dare has made the most of his opportunities this preseason — rushing nine times for 40 yards and catching four passes for 21 yards — and will likely have the opportunity to make an impact on either offense or special teams similar to how he did in Tampa.

However this season plays out in Houston, Dare is grateful to be back with the first NFL franchise to give him a shot and closer to his sister.

“It’s a blessing,” Dare said of his return to the Texans. “A lot of my friends are saying full circle but that’s exactly what it is. I feel like when I was here at first, I didn’t really understand the league and stuff like that and I felt like I was doing well, but some variables got in the way.

“Now, going into my sixth year in a city like Houston with a great, great fanbase, I’m real excited. It’s definitely an opportunity for me to make a lot of plays on special teams and at the running back position and just to have fun. Play the game I love and get to make plays.”

Rapid fire with Arike, Dare Ogunbowale

Q: Who is the best player you’ve played with or against at any level?

Arike: Marina (Mabrey). We’ve been playing together since college and we’re still playing together now so that’s definitely my favorite.

Dare: I played against Julio (Jones). He had a great game against us when I was in Tampa. The best player I played with; I would say Mike Evans. Just being at practice with him, he would do some incredible stuff. He’s just a freak of nature and a freak athlete with knowledge of the game.

Q: Who’s the most underrated player in the WNBA?

Arike: I’ll say Kelsey Mitchell. She’s a killer every year, every game and she kind of goes under the radar but she’s definitely a bucket.

Q: What’s your favorite NFL/WNBA moment so far?

Dare: Probably my first touchdown. I grew up a soccer player and my first touchdown was scored at Tottenham (Hotspur) in London which was crazy. It was a crazy experience getting to score my first touchdown in London in a soccer stadium; that’s one of my dad’s favorite soccer teams.

Arike: The All-Star game last year when I got MVP. It was just a fun game and that was my first All-Star game. It was a cool experience.

Q: Who’s the funniest teammate you’ve played with?

Arike: That’s tough. I’d say Brooke McCarty. I played with her my rookie year; we had fun.

Dare: I don’t know if he’s naturally funny or if he tries to be funny like a comedian type of thing, but Ronald Jones. He’s just goofy; everything he does is goofy. He’s another one of those freak athletes but in the locker room, he’s going to have you cracking up so I’ll probably say RoJo.