Congolese NBA champion Serge Ibaka has always spoken candidly about his life and struggles back home before stardom and how he rose above all obstacles to become who he is today.
Still enjoying life after winning his first NBA championship and ring, the Toronto Raptors star returned to his home country with the coveted Larry O’Brien trophy.
Taking to his social media accounts to express how grateful he truly he is, Ibaka shared a video of him eating a full meal at a restaurant he used to visit to beg for leftovers some 15 years ago.
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“From begging leftovers 15 years ago to coming back as an NBA Champion to eat a full meal at the same restaurant in Congo. Sometimes life is like a movie and this script is written by God only,” he shared.
Ibaka, who is a well-known foodie and runs the YouTube channel ‘How Hungry Are You?‘ credits his interest in food to his past experiences while growing up in the Republic of Congo.
“It’s from my past experience, where I come from,” he told CBC. “I lost my mom when I was seven, and at some point in my life having food it was like a big deal for me because it was not every day.”
Born in Congo, Brazzaville to two professional basketball players, Ibaka began his basketball career in 2008 with Spanish team CB L’Hospitlet. He eventually made it to the NBA in 2008 after being drafted by the Seattle Supersonics, making him the first player from the Republic of Congo to be selected in a draft.
He has also played for the Oklahoma City Thunder and Orlando Magic and is a member of the Spanish national basketball team.
Ibaka, during the NBA finals against the Golden State Warriors, was very vital coming off the bench to effectively contribute both offensively and defensively. He finished off the final game with 15 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. One of his memorable performances during the series was coming off the bench to score 20 points in 22 minutes in game 4.
Not forgetting where he comes from and how it all started, Ibaka goes home every year and gives back through his Serge Ibaka Foundation. The Foundation has helped improve the lives of children in health, education, and nutrition among other areas.
He has partnered with several organisations to realize his dream of helping children.
He also partnered with UNICEF to help provide mentorship and improve the education and living conditions of street children who don’t have any parents or family in the Congo.
His initiative won him a position on the National Basketball Players’ Association (NBPA) Board of Directors in 2017 to serve as a positive example for others in the league.