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Lauri Markkanen thanks John McCain for visa help to pursue his ‘dream’

Lauri Markkanen signing autographs for young fans. | Kamil Krzaczynski/AP Photo

Before Lauri Markkanen became a key part of the Bulls’ rebuild, he was a young player from Finland trying to move to the United States to play college basketball. And when Markkanen needed help with his visa to enter the country, he found it from the late Sen. John McCain, who died Saturday at 81.

On Sunday morning, Markkanen thanked McCain, known as an Arizona Wildcats fan, on Twitter for helping him accomplish his “dream” of playing in the U.S.

Markkanen played his lone season of college basketball at Arizona, the same state where McCain served as a U.S Senator for more than 30 years. He left Arizona after one season to enter the 2017 NBA Draft and was drafted by the Bulls with the No. 7 overall pick.

“There was some delay in getting him a visa,” McCain told ESPN in 2017 (via Yahoo!). “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.”