Serge Ibaka is without a doubt known by most fans as a current member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, as well as one of the best big men in the league. But the harrowing story of Serge Ibaka’s journey to the NBA is one that many people don’t know. Ibaka’s past is a harrowing one, and he has had to overcome many obstacles along his his path to NBA superstardom.
Serge Ibaka was born in Brazzaville, Congo to two basketball playing parents. Interesting fact is that Serge was the third youngest of an astonishing 18 children that his parents had. You read that right, 18. And growing up in the Congo (as you could imagine) was no easy task for anyone, let alone a child. From a very young age, Ibaka used basketball as an escape from a to take his mind away from his troubles in life.
And boy, there was a lot of them. One such trouble in his life was the fact that his mother died when he was a child, and another is that his father was imprisoned during the Second Congo War, a war that took place from 1998 to 2003. The reason he was arrested and imprisoned is that he tried to take his family away from their home to escape the war, but was ultimately captured and kept as a political prisoner.
After numerous attempts to get away from the Congo, Ibaka finally was able to escape and moved to France at the age of 17. Eventually, he moved to Spain and taught himself Spanish, and that is when his basketball career really began to take off. He joined a second divison club and eventually (in 2008) participating in numerous international showcases and even won the MVP award at the Reebok Eurocamp. He had gained very high praise from scouts at these camps. While his skill set was raw as he was still fairly new to high level organized basketball, scouts praised his athleticism and claimed it was off the charts and there was no telling how good he could become.
This advice resonated with the offficials in the NBA as Ibaka was the 24th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Seattle Supersonics (who soon became the Oklahoma City Thunder). The team decided to allow him to mature for one more year in Europe before eventually signing him to a contract in the summer of 2009. And despite coming into the league as a raw talent, he has been a valuable starter for the team and one of the best defenders and shot blockers in the NBA today and is currently on a deal that pays him $12 Million a year.
This inspirational story of Serge Ibaka should give hope to all people who feel they will not be able to achieve your dreams. If Serge was able to escape a war torn country and fulfill his dreams, you can do the same, never give up.