A couple months ago, it seemed the entire country was celebrating the Toronto Raptors first NBA title. Probably one of the happiest people with the win was Raptors’ president, Masai Ujiri. I learned a little more about Ujiri lately, which makes me like him a lot and wish that more people were like him in their willingness to share in their successes.
Masai Ujiri was born in Nigeria. He has never forgotten his roots nor his desire to give back to his country. He formed the Giants of Africa organization, and each summer he travels throughout Africa promoting basketball. In each community, he spends time with the youth living there and he inspired them “to dream big”.
In November 2016, his Giants of Africa organization changed its destination and Ujiri travelled north to the community of La Loche, shortly after the tragic shooting that occurred at their school. After meeting with students and teachers, Ujiri arranged for 10 students and 2 teachers to make a trip to Toronto in January 2017 to watch the Raptors play. Since then, students and their chaperones have made the trip to watch a Raptors game each year.
Ujiri says it brings him great joy to see the kids from La Loche experience the city of Toronto and the Raptors. He believes that we all must take care of our youth, and as in the case of the La Loche youth, help them heal and create hope. Ujiri loves his adopted country Canada and is grateful for the success he has found here. What sets him apart is how he uses that success to help others. Ujiri could simply reap the benefits of his basketball success, he wouldn’t have to reach out to youth around the world. But he does reach out to youth, he offers them hope and encouragement and he is making a difference in their world. He believes in using his success to inspire others to succeed. He is proving that one person can make a difference.
In 2016, when Masai Ujiri visited La Loche, he spoke to students at the high school. He offered these words of encouragement and I think they are words we should all live by:
“There’s tragedy that happens everywhere in this world. Live and help others. Every single one of us was chosen, and every single one of us is special. You have to find it. You have to look at yourself every day and find it”.