Kenya Morans star shooting guard Tylor Okari was a budding footballer in his early teen years, likening himself to Didier Drogba or Samuel Eto’o, until a compound fracture brought this high-flying potential career to a screeching halt.
A tackle from an enthusiastic defender as he went through on goal in a fateful game in the hood crushed through his foot, causing multiple fractures.
Other than completely abandoning the urge to keep playing, the after-effects of the fracture, whose recovery stretched to over 18 months, forced him to switch sports.
Okari found new love in basketball.
“I didn’t do surgery or anything. Just a cast on the leg and left it to heal naturally. It took a year and a half and when I ultimately was able to move freely, I didn’t have the strength I had before and I was a bit scared. So naturally, I couldn’t get back to playing football,” Okari, now a professional basketballer with Bakken Bears in Denmark told Capital Sport from his base in Aarhus.
He wanted to be an engineer or a pilot and certainly had the grades to go that way having scored an A- in his KCSE, but his undying passion for sports could not be swayed.
It has further gone on to sail his ship to New Zealand, Switzerland and Denmark where his prestigious vessel is currently docked.
Not only has he settled himself with some big European teams, but he is now a revered Kenyan poster boy, having helped the Morans to the Africa Zone Five title, taking the MVP title, as well as the final of the FIBA AfroCan for the first time ever, where he was named in the dream team.
But here is the story of a young boy from Eldoret who has grown to become a Kenyan basketball superstar.
Having seen his football dream slip away like sand through the hour glass, the new-born basketball passion was catalyzed further when he joined Friends School Kamusinga. At Form One, he was already in the school team.
“I actually didn’t think I could play much but at Kamusinga I got very good coaches who helped me improve my game. The team was also on top of its game so naturally, I had to match up,” further narrated Okari.
Day by day, month by month, his star continued to shine. In Form Three, he helped Kamusinga reach the National School Games final, and was named the Most Valuable Player despite losing to arch rivals Maseno School.
That year proved to be a turning point in Okari’s career.
South Africa basketball training camp
He was selected among five Kenyans to head to South Africa for the Basketball Without Borders National Basketball Association camp alongside Bruce Ndikumana, Joseph Ouma, James Mathiang and Samuel Odera.
He was initially picked out in a larger trials cohort that also had Valentine Nyankinda and Ronnie Gundo, who are now also part of the national team.
“I think that is where I sat back and thought, well, this could actually be a thing. I was on a plane selected among a very talented group of players and when we got there, I actually for the first time saw myself as a basketball player in real life. To be selected in the dream team of 12 after the camp was unimaginable for me,” an excited Okari recalls.
Buffed by the experience he picked up from South Africa, he came back home, once again starred for Friends School and helped them reach the semis of the nationals and the 2010 East Africa School Games in Nakuru in his last year of High School.
After clearing, Okari immediately went into league action and signed up for his local club Eldonets. As an A student, Okari joined Strathmore University where he had a three-month stint before the big call finally came.
Read all about his rise from Eldonet to the big leagues in Denmark, playing for the Bakken Bears. Find the full story on Capital Sports here.