In a recent interview, Nigerian-born NBA basketball star Hakeem Olajuwon (pictured) discusses his unlikely rise in the sport that he ultimately revolutionized.
Unlike most basketball players, Olajuwon wouldn’t begin playing the particular sport until he was 17 years old, when it was finally introduced to his school.
“I was playing team handball, soccer, so I was already an athlete. This new sports I had watched for many years,” Olajuwon says.
“In Nigeria, to get to the handball court, you had to pass through basketball.”
Shortly after, Olajuwon would play for just six months on Nigeria’s national team before receiving a University of Houston scholarship for basketball.
“I saw on my passport, ‘Basketball scholarship.’ My parents didn’t know you could get that, so it was eye-opening for them,” he says.
But Olajuwon’s favor was just beginning. In 1984, the professional basketball team the Houston Rockets would choose Olajuwon over the later iconic Michael Jordan and talented Charles Barkley.
And the rest is history.
By the time Olajuwon would retire from basketball in 2002, he would be a two-time NBA champion, achieve the distinction of being the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, score 26,946 points, receive 13,747 rebounds, perform 3,830 blocks, and win an Olympic gold medal.
Watch Olajuwon’s interview here: