Utah Jazz's Thabo Sefolosha reconnects with roots at Basketball Without Borders in South Africa

Utah Jazz's Thabo Sefolosha reconnects with roots at Basketball Without Borders in South Africa

SALT LAKE CITY — Thabo Sefolosha’s presence at Basketball Without Borders Africa this week in Johannesburg, South Africa, is about more than hoops and about even more than helping youth.

It’s personal.

The new Utah Jazz small forward has been involved with the program since arriving in the NBA in 2006, going to various countries on the continent, but each time South Africa is on the itinerary, it’s a unique opportunity for the 6-foot-7 wing whose father hails from the country.

“It’s a country that I’m still learning as I come here more often,” said the Switzerland-born Sefolosha on Thursday via conference call, noting that his family was not allowed there during Apartheid because of laws against interracial marriage. “It’s a beautiful country. I’m very fortunate that the NBA is doing the camp there so it allows me to mix business and pleasure and reconnect with this country and the family.

It’s been an amazing experience. It’s part of who I am and who my family comes from, so it’s a unique experience. It’s something that makes me very happy. It’s just fun to be here and reconnect with my roots.”

The camp, which began Wednesday and will conclude Saturday with the NBA Africa Game to be televised on ESPN2, features 23 NBA players who are teaching youth from around Africa both basketball and life skills.

“Things that they can take with them when they go back into their original countries, empower the community, empower themselves, and show them that things are possible,” Sefolosha said. “It’s possible for them to become an NBA player, but this is not the only thing in life. We try to encourage them with school and understanding how important it is for them to get a good education also.”

Sefolosha feels as though the growing number of NBA players from Africa can choose how much they want to give back to their native continent, but it’s something that’s important to him personally.

“I think that when you look at the continent of Africa as a whole, the talent there is huge, and the possibilities are huge, and I’m not just talking about basketball,” he said. “I’m talking life in general. I think for all of us to have an impact, to have the media availability that we have and being able to touch people and deliver messages, I think Africa definitely needs that and strong and positive leaders.”

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Published at Thu, 03 Aug 2017 19:50:00 +0000