NBA star Rudy Gobert reveals he experienced racism from his relatives during childhood

Francis Akhalbey April 17, 2024
Rudy Gobert was born to a White mother and a Black father -- Photo Credit: Erik Drost

In an essay published by The Players’ Tribune on Monday, Minnesota Timberwolves star Rudy Gobert touched on racism he experienced from his White French mother’s family during his childhood.

The 31-year-old’s father, who was also a professional basketball player, is Black and hails from Guadeloupe. Gobert’s mother met him while he was playing professional basketball in France. But they separated when Gobert was three years old, and he ended up staying with his mother in France after his father relocated to his native Guadeloupe.

Gobert in the essay said that his mother’s family did not want him around after he was born. “Before I was even conscious, when I was just a child coming into the world in Northern France, some people didn’t want me around because of who I am. And not just people. My own people. Very close family, actually,” the three-time All-Star wrote.

“It’s a painful memory, but one that I need to share,” he stated. “You see, every year, my mom’s side of the family had this big Christmas dinner at a certain person’s house. My mom is white. My dad is Black. He’s from Guadeloupe, and he was playing basketball professionally in France when they met. My mom already had two white children from her previous relationship, and then I came into the world….”

Gobert wrote that following his birth, “certain relatives made it very clear” to his mother “that she wasn’t welcome to come to Christmas dinner if she brought me along.” “She could come on her own. But she couldn’t bring ‘that child.’ She couldn’t bring Rudy,” he added.

He also stated that though his mother was left devastated, she decided to cut ties with her family members. “And obviously, she spent Christmas with me instead. She told them, ‘If that’s the way you think, then you’re not going to see me anymore. Not at Christmas. Not ever. I don’t want anything to do with you,’” Gobert wrote.

Elsewhere in the essay, Gobert touched on his mother’s struggles during his childhood and how their financial situation made him strive for success. He also said he became obsessed with basketball by the age of 12.

“I used to get every magazine I could get my hands on. Remember those posters in the middle of every issue? I’d tear them out and tape them to my bedroom wall. I put up so many of them that after a while you couldn’t even see the walls underneath,” he wrote.

“It was wall-to-wall NBA posters with my graffiti tags sprayed over them. I would close my eyes and imagine myself on an NBA floor — dunking the ball, guarding legends like Kobe, Tony, Dirk, STAT … this was the place I would go to. In my head, in my room, in France. If you saw a picture of me at that age, you might not believe it. But I believed it with all my heart and soul.”

Gobert has since had a stellar professional basketball career as he’s regarded as one of the best defenders in the NBA. Besides being a three-time NBA All-Star, the 31-year-old has made the All-Defensive First Team six times.

Gobert recorded the highest number of blocks in the 2016–17 season. He was also the league’s top rebounder in the 2021–22 season.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: April 17, 2024


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