Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen pays tribute to Senator John McCain

Lauri Markkanen #24 of the Chicago Bulls lays in a shot over Tomas Satoransky #31 and Otto Porter Jr. #22 of the Washington Wizards on his way to a game-high 23 points at the United Center on April 1, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – Tributes to the late Senator John McCain have flooded in since his death was announced Saturday night at the age of 81.

One of those came from a young member of the Chicago Bulls, who thanked the late senator for giving him a chance to make a name for himself in the United States.

Lauri Markkanen took to Twitter on Sunday morning to thank Senator McCain for his help in getting him a visa to play basketball in the United States.

McCain was the senator in Arizona, where Markkanen left his native Finland to play for the Wildcats in Tuscon. With his help, the forward was able to go to the university, and in one season became one of the best players in all of college basketball.

Markkanen was named a third-team All-American as a freshman and was on the PAC 12’s All-Conference first team as he averaged 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. He aided Arizona’s PAC 12 regular season and conference tournament championships along with helping the Wildcats to a Sweet 16 appearance.

That June, Markkanen was selected seventh overall by the Bulls, who acquired the pick in the Jimmy Butler trade. As a major part of the rebuilding Bulls, the forward averaged 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game and was selected to the NBA’s All-Rookie team.

All were opportunities which Markkanen believes came through some help from the late senator.