The biggest story in world basketball in 2019 was Toronto Raptors’ success as winners of the NBA — the first time a non-US team had accomplished the feat.
One of the Raptors’ key players was Serge Ibaka, who the NBA stresses produced “All-Star levels” during the run. What’s even more uplifting is that he is, in his own words, a “kid from Congo” who “used to be out there cleaning the streets, asking for money, asking for food.”
As per the New York Times: “He used to play basketball without shoes. Now, he’s a world champion.”
The paper adds more detail to his story, which saw him fend for himself after his mother died when he was just eight, and his father was imprisoned in the midst of the Congolese war for a year when the athlete was 15. During the violence, Ibaka ended up on the Brazzaville streets, feeding himself with leftovers from a local restaurant.
As the athlete puts it on Twitter, “from begging leftovers 15 years ago to coming back as an NBA champion to eat a full meal at the same restaurant in Congo. Sometimes life is like a movie, and this script is written by God only… #anything is possible.”
Speaking to the New York Times, he adds: “My story. My Past. I don’t want to forget that. I want to think about it and be reminded of it so I can be thankful and appreciative of everything.”
Ibaka runs basketball clinics for local youths through his own foundation, and recently launched a digital fashion web series. He’s a bit of a hit on YouTube, where his series ‘How Hungry Are You’ sees the player cook dishes for other athletes. The videos regularly rack up hundreds of thousands of views.Tags: Basketball, NBA, sports, Toronto, USA