Who was Makuach Yak? Missing Delray Beach Basketball coach found dead after going missing
Missing Delray Beach basketball coach Makuach Yak was found dead on Friday inside the Delray Oaks Natural Area in Florida. Yak was last seen on May 20 near his home on Southwest 10th Avenue, leaving his house around 6:30 a.m. to go for a run.
Yak's friend and business partner, Tate Van Roekel, reported him missing after he didn't at a basketball tournament. Van Roekel went to Yak's house and found his wallet, keys, phone and Apple Watch still there.
After reporting to authorities, friends and family started searching for Yak around the area, reaching Boynton Beach and Boca Raton. He was last seen wearing a purple shirt, black running shorts, white socks and black running shoes. He was caught by a security camera leaving his house.
A week after being reported missing, Makuach Yak's body was found on Friday evening inside the Delray Oaks Natural Area. Yak was 31 at the time of his death.
Authorities are currently conducting an investigation into his death, but it seems like there was no foul play involved. However, a medical examiner is still doing an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
Stephen Reath, a family member of the deceased, posted a statement online regarding Yak's death:
"The thought of his loved ones yearning for his presence, of his friends desperately seeking his laughter and companionship, is a weight that will linger in our souls because of the immense impact he left on each and every one of us will forever be felt." (h/t The Palm Beach Post)
Makuach Yak's personal life
Makuach Yak, who was known in the community as Paul, was a youth basketball coach in Delray Beach, Florida. Yak was involved with M.T. Athletics, an organization that helps young people from African countries like Ethiopia, South Sudan and Uganda to play basketball in the United States.
Yak came to the U.S. at the age of eight after his parents fled South Sudan. The family first settled in Nashville, Tennessee, before moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota. They eventually found their permanent home in Iowa when he was in the seventh grade.
Standing at 6' 4", Yak was good at basketball but focused on long-distance running when he was a student at Augustana University in South Dakota. He graduated in 2015 and aspired to represent South Sudan in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Yak moved to Colorado to train, but the COVID-19 pandemic halted his plans. He eventually moved again to Florida, where he became an advocate for immigrant athletes. He began coaching youth basketball and helping athletes from Africa settle in the U.S.