Atlanta Kwame James waited nearly 10 years to be sworn in as a U.S. citizen, a long time compared with the time he spent helping subdue would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid on a trans-Atlantic flight.
James, now 32, wore a gray pinstriped suit and blue tie this week during the ceremony, which ended years of immigration limbo that began after he helped thwart the terror attack aboard a Paris-to-Miami flight in December 2001.
The 6-foot-8 basketball player was napping when a flight attendant roused him. Ten rows back, Reid was scuffling with passengers and the crew after he tried to ignite explosives hidden in his shoes. James helped tie up Reid with belts and headset wires, and took turns holding Reid by his ponytail with another passenger until the plane could land in Boston.
Nearly 10 years later, James would rather talk about how happy he is to be a new citizen and his passion for music.
“I became a citizen of one of the best countries in the world and I am very happy,” he said Friday, a day after he was sworn in as a citizen in Atlanta.