Who was Makuach Yak? Missing Delray Beach basketball coach found dead after going missing

Missing Delray Beach basketball coach Makuach Yak was found dead 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 home around 6:30 am to go for a run.

Yak’s friend and business associate, Tate Van Roekel, reported him missing after he failed to make it at a basketball tournament. Van Roekel went to Yak’s house and found his wallet, keys, phone and Apple Watch still there.

After informing authorities, friends and family began searching the area for Yak, reaching as far as 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 on a security camera leaving his house.

A week after being reported missing, Makuach Yak’s body was found Friday night inside the Delray Oaks Natural Area. Yak was 31 years old at the time of his death.

Authorities are conducting an investigation into his death, but it appears no foul play was involved. However, a medical examiner is still doing an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Stephen Reath, a relative of the deceased, posted a statement online about 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 remain on our souls because the immense impact he left on each and every one of us will be felt forever. ” (H/t The Palm Beach Post)

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Makuach Yak’s personal life

Makuach Yak (@nyaalnasir/Twitter)

Makuach Yak, known in the community as Paul, was a youth basketball coach in Delray Beach, Florida. Yak was involved with MT Athletics, an organization that helps youth from African countries like Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Uganda to play basketball in the United States.

Yak came to the US 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 his permanent home in Iowa when he was in seventh grade.

Standing at 6’4″, Yak was good at basketball but focused on long-distance running as a student at Augustana University in South Dakota. He graduated in 2015 and aspired to represent South Sudan at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Yak moved to Colorado to train, but the COVID-19 pandemic brought his plans to a halt. He eventually moved back to Florida, where he became an advocate for immigrant athletes. He began coaching youth basketball and helped athletes from Africa establish themselves in the US.

It is with great sadness to announce that Makuach Yak, age 31, was found dead tonight inside the Delray Oaks Natural Area. At this time, it appears that his death is not criminal in nature. The medical examiner will determine the cause of death. The investigation is still open.

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Edited by
John Paul David