Pascal Siakam: Catholic Toronto Raptors star and his unconventional path from Cameroon to NBA

By Isaac Fanin

BBC—For the first 17 years of his life, Pascal Siakam didn’t pick up a basketball much. It was just a game his older brothers played.

Even though his father dreamed about one of his children growing up to play in the NBA, Siakam, the youngest of six siblings, was always more interested in other sports.

“I played soccer. I was good. I could have played soccer if I wanted,” he says.

The thing is, when you grow to be 6ft 7in tall, basketball is tough to ignore.

Considering Siakam has been playing the sport for under 10 years, his resume is more than impressive. Now 25, last season he was crowned the NBA’s most improved player. He was a major contributor as the Toronto Raptors won their first NBA championship title.

The path that led him there is not what you would call conventional


Born in Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital, Siakam spent much of his youth at St Andrews Seminary, training for the priesthood in a small town called Bafia.

Eight hours’ drive from home, and with the discipline of the Catholic Church a strong presence in his world, Siakam didn’t always get to enjoy the vibrant lights of city life. But the experience strongly shaped him – and who he would become.

“It was really strict,” he says. “When I went there, I didn’t really know how to do a lot of things. It really taught me how to be a man. How to take responsibility and take care of myself.

“Going out there in the world by myself, finding a way and fighting on my own. I learned those values there.”

For much of Siakam’s seven years at St Andrews, basketball wasn’t even a consideration. There were… Read More, an especially inspirational, well-crafted article!>>


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