Leon Kogut and Marat Kogut

Growing up, Marat Kogut dreamed of sharing the floor with professional basketball’s biggest stars, but not as a player. Marat wanted to be an NBA referee, a career goal he achieved in 2009 with more than a little support from his father, Leon.

Leon Kogut knows something about chasing dreams—in 1979 he immigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine with his wife and three kids. Marat was just a newborn then, and the family landed in a homeless shelter before Leon found work as a barber. Today, Leon owns his own barbershop in Brooklyn.

At StoryCorps, father and son talked about Marat’s own journey to the NBA.

Originally aired June 6, 2011, on NPR’s Morning Edition.