Mbah a Moute: From Africa to the NBA, Without Borders
“In Africa, we’re beginning to see new countries challenging the traditional powers like Angola — the Ivory Coast, Tunisia. I’ve said this before: Africa could be a continent as important to the development of players as Eastern and Western Europe combined.” David Stern, N.B.A. commissioner
Finally the NBA is getting IT. Some of the most gifted athletes in the world come from Africa. We need more of them. We need more humble athletes who don’t forget the struggles of everyday life. We need inspirational athletes for our kids to look up to, and we need more mighty-mighty-fine men who appreciate their stance in life…and now we’ve got one. His name is Mbah a Moute (pronounced BAH-ah-MOO-tay), and he hails from Cameroon.
His journey reads like a dream come true…he didn’t play basketball until he was 14 years old. By the time he was 16, the kid from Cameroon had been chosen to attend the inaugural Basketball without Borders event in Johannesburg…within two years he was the best youth player in his country, three weeks later, Mbah a Moute was on a plane heading to Florida to attend prep school at Montverde Academy…and now, the 6’8” rookie is playing hoops with the Milwaukee Bucks, “It all happened so fast, but it changed my life.”
Following the footsteps of other great NBA players, Mbah a Moute went back to Johannesburg last week for Basketball Without Borders, where he joined Dikembe Mutombo (above), Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki, Vladimir Radmanovic, and DJ Mbenga, among others.
As the first alumnus of the camp, Mbah a Moute is the ultimate rags-to-riches story, and a powerful inspiration for kids participating in the N.B.A.s Basketball Without Borders program. “Three weeks after this camp I left for the U.S. and started my dream,” he told the children, “That’s why I’m back here today to tell you this is a great experience, take advantage of it.”
But the Basketball Without Borders’ athletes do much more than just talk to the kids…along with Habitat for Humanity, they’ve built 9 homes since 2007…they’ve planted gardens, played soccer, learned traditional African dances, and they’ve spent endless hours interacting with students helping them learn the fundamentals of basketball as well as life…and as evidenced above by Dwight Howard, the hotties are doing it exceptionally well.
Basketball without Borders (BWB) is the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development program that uses the sport to create positive social change in the areas of education, health and wellness. The camps have been held in Beijing, China, Mexico City, Mexico and Johannesburg, South Africa…to read more, visit the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders site…they’ve got a daily run down, including photos from a visit to the Apartheid Museum, as well as feedback from some of the players including Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh after they finished planting a peach tree for a Home Based Care Facility in Soweto.
As always, thanks for reading. Delinda@athlebrities.com
MEN’S U.S. OLYMPIC BASKETBALL TEAM
Monday, we got our starting line-up for the Men’s U.S. Olympic Basketball team that hopes to capture the gold medal in Beijing in August. Chris Paul, Jason Kidd, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Michael Redd, and Deron Williams, Tayshaun Prince.
I’m gonna break down some of these beasts and their charity work for ya…yesterday, I mentioned that I’ve seen Jason Kidd at just about every charity gig you can imagine. To name a few- the ‘Showdown in Chinatown event,’ The Pro Team Sports Challenge’, and now Kidd’s headed off to Vegas for the Ante Up For Africa Poker tournement: “Role model is something that comes with my job description. It’s a given that kids will look up to you.” Kidd’s Foundation
oddly named the Jason Kidd Foundation, provided funds for children’s medical research and to charities supporting the needs and interests of children…he also launched the “Assists for Kidds” program, which asks fans to make donations to charity for every one of his assists, while he himself has pledged $100 per assist. He also holds the usual youth basketball camps and charity golf tournaments every summer. To me, Kidd is one of the mightymighty-fine good guys out there. I’ve seen him in action at the Pro Team challenge, and I can tell you he was more focused on winning the event for his teams’ chosen charity than he was in the silicon-how’d-they-find-out-about-this-event-girls traipsing around the pool. *The Pro Team Sports Challenge will be broadcast this weekend, Saturday and Sunday on FoxSportsNet.
What can I possibly say about Chris Paul and his charity work that hasn’t been said? Chris and his family created the CP3 Foundation in partnership with the Winston-Salem Foundation to feed hungry families, support worthy causes and provide scholarships. We’ve seen him getting down and dirty in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans-helping rebuild and clean-up the mess left behind by Hurricane Katrina. He passes out thousands of Thanksgiving turkeys every year-with a sincere smile on his face and in 2006 Chris won the NBA’s Community Assist Award, which garnered an additional $5,000 for his CP3 Foundation and applauded him for his emphasis on community involvement, service, and his donation of food baskets and bikes for underprivileged children in Oklahoma City and New Orleans.
In April 2008, Men’s Vogue ran a great piece on Chris Paul; which-in part- exemplifies his heart, soul, passion and past that have made him the mighty-mighty-sexy-good-guy he is today. Excerpt: Paul was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he developed into a high-scoring high-school point guard. In 2002, the day after Paul signed his letter of intent to play college basketball at Wake Forest, his grandfather, Nathaniel Jones, was murdered in his driveway. A few nights later, Paul took the court and scored 61 points — his grandfather’s age when he died — before taking himself out of the game and weeping on the bench. He now runs the Nathaniel Jones Scholarship Fund, which sends deserving high-school grads to Wake Forest. And if that didnt give you goosebumps, you’re on the wrong blog.
I dare anyone to find something negative written about Dwight Howard. (And I ain’t talking about his hoops skills-although I’m willing to bet there’s not much you can rip on there either). Hot-stuff, along with his parents, established the Dwight D. Howard Foundation in 2004 to empower kids to reach their highest potential- he’s given out scholarships for students who want to attend his alma mater, Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy in Atlanta Georgia and provides grants to Lovell Elementary School and Memorial Middle School in Orlando Florida. He’s personally donated money for the Katrina Hurricane relief efforts, and helped to build a playground at the Boca Club Apartments in Orlando. And to top this sundae with a plump cherry- Dwight has faith. When he’s home in Atlanta, he attends the Fellowship of Faith Church and donates his time to the youth programs at the church. Needless to say, it’ll be a cold day in hell when you read anything about Howard getting a DUI, arrested for gun possession or accidentally picking up a stranger who later beats and robs him. Dwight Howard is more than a mighty-fine-man, he’s a stellar example for all of us to look up to.
Of course, not much ‘community’ news available on Chris Bosh, but according to his foundation website-Bosh is okay by me. Each year he runs a Chris Bosh Foundation Book Club where over 2000 kids get involved to read as much as possible during hoops season. Throughout 2007 Chris supported and initiated a variety of community events including a holiday party for more than 300 kids, his first annual basketball tournament, homework and book clubs…he’s the Read To Achieve spokesman for the Raptors and has attended a ton of Raptors community events including the Raptors Foundation Court Launch, Sick Kids Hospital visit and KingPin Bowling Challenge. During the month of February Chris promoted Black History Month by hosting in school trivia contests and provides youth the opportunity to come to games throughout the season.
By now you’ve must have heard of Boozer’s Buddies right? Boozer and his wife established the foundation to support families affected by Sickle Cell Disease. Inspiration comes in many shapes and forms, and Boozer was inspired after his 17-month-old son, Carmani, was diagnosed with has sickle cell anemia (who later underwent a successful bone marrow transplant). “You think of yourself as a father, brother, son, a basketball player, all these things,” Carlos said. “Now I realize I’m so much more than that, I’m an advocate. I want to raise money, help kids who can’t help themselves. This is the beginning of a long story for us, and this is just Part One.”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…Carmelo Anthony is a good-guy. I don’t care about his DUI-he made a mistake, which he’s owned up to, so get over it already. Im not condoning drinking and driving, but if the media would report the good things Melo’s been involved with, you may change your opinion. And again, I’m not gonna address some asinine video-game-much-to-do-about-nothing or overblown 7-Eleven BS that some of you have latched onto in efforts to bring Melo down. My point is finding about finding a balance…and when Melo is interacting with kids and kicking down some hefty cash (under the media radar) to improve the lives of needy kids-its easy to read his face and you just know in your heart he’s doing it outta love. Simple as that.
As for the rest of Team USA-Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Michael Redd, Deron Williams, and Tayshaun Prince…well, lets see, D-Wade is always out there in the community- not sure if its sincerity or contract work, but regardless, he’s always smiling and licking those juicy lips of his…Lebron James-hypocrite…Michael Redd is a a devout Christian who bought a church building for his father’s ministry as the first purchase after signing with the NBA-I’d say he’s one of the good-guys out there-check out his Foundation…Deron Williams: His Point of Hope Foundation helps people with cancer…he holds charity golf events…and is hot….Tayshaun Prince…can’t give him love just yet…had a nasty run in with some of his peeps in Carson, so by proxy he’s a bit tainted for this Motor City gal.
The USA Basketball Men’s Senior National Team will be profiled in a five-part documentary series, “Road To Redemption presented by NIKE”. The series, produced by NBA Entertainment, will debut with a special one-hour episode that will air Wednesday, July 2 at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
As always, thanks for reading.