When you hear the name Serge Ibaka, you probably think of the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team and his playing partner, Kevin Durant. But did you know Serge came all the way from The Republic of Congo in Africa, where he was born, to play basketball in the U.S.? He grew up during a civil war and came from a family of eighteen. That’s right! Serge has seventeen brothers and sisters.
When his mother died and his father became a prisoner of war, he and his siblings had to take care of each other, and that wasn’t always easy. But Serge says he always reminded himself that he had to believe in himself no matter what.
When Serge was sixteen years old, he started to play basketball with his neighborhood team. When he was eighteen, he came to the United States for the first time to play in the Adidas Nation’s basketball camp. Just two years later, Serge signed a contract to play for OKC, where he still plays with his good friends Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Once Serge had been in the United States for a while, he realized he missed the Congo and wanted to help kids there that may be struggling like he had. He did this by restoring two different orphanages near his hometown and some of the basketball courts.
The basketball courts that Serge once played on had broken backboards and rims that were bent and uneven. They even had cardboard on the dirt ground so the ball would bounce better and the players’ feet wouldn’t get muddy while they played. Now those same courts have concrete, goals and rims that are as nice as the ones that Serge shoots on back in the United States. It is Serge’s goal to be an inspiration to some of the kids from his home country. He hopes that by sharing his love of basketball with the kids in the Congo, maybe he can also change a few kids’ lives along the way. He tells them all “Believe in yourself.”