John McCain helped ensure Lauri Markkanen played college basketball

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
2 Comments

As the nation continues to mourn the death of Senator John McCain, we are getting more and more stories from people whose lives he touched.

One of those people is Lauri Markkanen, the Finnish-born former Arizona Wildcat that is currently heading into his second season with the Chicago Bulls.

The story goes like this: Markkanen was having trouble getting a visa from the American Embassy in Finland. Knowing that McCain was a big Wildcat fan, the athletic department reached out to their state senator to request some help expediting the process.

“There was some delay in getting him a visa,” McCain told ABC News back in 2017. “Obviously he had to have a student visa and there was a question about whether he was a student or not in Finland. I’d like to tell you it was the hardest struggle I ever had. Actually, we just kind of weighed in and said, ‘hey, how about expediting this’. It was not as big a deal as I would like it to be.”

The rest is history. Markkanen would go on to average 15.6 points and 7.2 boards in his one season in Tucson before getting selected with the 7th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.