Masai Ujiri has been visiting the continent of Africa on a mission to provide Africa’s talented youth with the right infrastructure to grow themselves. Working through his own non-profit organization Giants of Africa, Ujiri has managed to host several basketball camps across Africa including Morcco and Mali in this year, and a thrilling camp in Ghana in 2018.
Here are afew things you should know about the Toronto Raptors DirectorPresident of Basketball operations:
1.He is of mixed African descent.
Masai Ujiri was born to a Nigerian father and Somali-Kenyan mother, in Bournmouth England in 1970. The 6ft4″ giant grew up in Nigeria from the age of two, after his family moved back to the motherland from England. He fell in love with the sport of basketball at a young age, which drove him to pursue it professionally early in life.
2.Masai first played professionally at high school.
Masai managed to get his parents’ approval to play semi-professionally in his teens. He left Nigeria to play for Nathan Hale High School before joining Bismarck State College, and later Montana State University Billings. Masai later moved to England to play professionally.
3.Masai has played different roles within the world of basketball
Masai may have started out as a basketball player, but after playing as a professional for 6 years, he transitioned into scouting talent, even moving to Nigeria to discover players with great potential. He served in the Denver Nuggets under the capacity of international scout, before which he worked as an unpaid scot for Orlando Magic. His ability to spot talent later led him to land the role of Director of Global Scouting at the Toronto Raptors.
4.Masai is a trend-setter.
The African baller is always raising the bar when it comes to Africans making into new levels of sports management. According to a report by the National Basketball Association, Ujiri was named the NBA Executive of the Year in 2013, becoming the first non-American to win the award. He was feted for his work with the Denver Nuggets, and his impact on the team.
5.Masai is not afraid to make controversial decisions.
Ujiri Masai is a man with foresight, and sometimes not all understand his overall vision. In early 2019, Ujiri gave up his position as Toronto Raptors General Manager, to help reconstruct the Raptors team, after a series of losses. Among his most discussed decisions was the transfer of Kawhi Leonard for Demar Derozen. The move later saw Raptors make history, winning the NBA 2019 title, a first for the Canadian side.
6.Masai’s Giants of Africa inspired a moving documentary.
The Giants of Africa initiative not only works on participants’ basketball techniques and skills, but hopes to improve the whole being of the marginalised youth involved in the various camps held across the continent. A documentary of the program and the power of sports to bring people together, made for a very telling film and the transformational power of sports. ‘Giants of Africa’ showed at the Toronto International Film Festivalin 2016, and received rave reviews.
7. Masai is more than just talk.
Masai has continued to inspire growth within the sports industry, and particularly in basketball. The industry leader has changed lives not only through the non-profit organisation Giants of Africa, but also in the Basketball Without Borders program.