Masai Ujiri is a Nigerian-Canadian professional basketball executive and former player, and is the president of basketball operations of the Toronto Raptors in the National Basketball Association (NBA). As president, Ujiri worked to usher in a period of sustained success, helping the team win its first NBA championship in 2019.
Ujiri was born in Bournemouth, England, where his parents were studying. With the family moving back to Nigeria when he was two years old, he grew up in Zaria, Nigeria. Ujiri’s father, a hospital administrator and nursing educator, is an Isoko from Aviara in Delta state, while his mother, a doctor, is a Kenyan from Machakos County.
In February 2020, Ujiri accompanied Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on an official visit to various African nations, including Ethiopia and Senegal. Ujiri appeared on behalf of sport charity Right To Play at an event in the Senegalese capital, Dakar.
Masai Ujiri is the first and only African-born President and General Manager of a professional sports franchise in North America – the National Basketball Association’s Toronto Raptors. In 2019, Masai led the Raptors to their first-ever NBA Championship and the first NBA Championship won by a team outside the United States in NBA history.
In 2003, during his phone interview to become the vice president of basketball operations for the Denver Nuggets, Masai requested 50,000 USD as an add on for his Giant of Africa project and he was willing to work away if he did not get the money for the camp. Getting the Job with the Denver Nuggets made Ujiri the first African General Manager of all of American Major League Sports.
Giant of Africa
Raised in Nigeria, with a deep passion for basketball, Masai began to pursue a career as an executive when his professional basketball career came to an early end. In 2003, Masai co-founded the Giants of Africa (GOA) organization, based on the idea of using basketball as a means of educating and enriching the lives of African youth – both boys and girls. Originally established in Nigeria,
Giant Of Africa eventually expanded into Kenya and since 2015 GOA has created camps and programs across the African continent, including in Ghana, Rwanda, Mali, Morocco, Senegal, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, and Somalia. In addition, GOA has built courts throughout Africa and conducted outreach programs for communities in need, including two of the largest United Nations refugee camps in the world in Dadaab and Kakuma.
Masai Ujiri seeks to use Basketball as a tool for development in the Africa continent.
After ending a professional playing career in 2002, Ujiri worked as a youth coach in Nigeria. During an NBA summer league game in Boston, he met David Thorpe, who eventually introduced him to college coaches. In 2002, Ujiri was accompanying a young Nigerian player to a draft tryout in Orlando when he impressed Magic scouting director Gary Brokaw, who then introduced Ujiri to coach Doc Rivers and GM John Gabriel. Ujiri then became an unpaid scout for the NBA’s Orlando Magic, paying his own way when he had to and sharing rooms with scouts or players when he could.
Masai’s Values: Passion, Honesty and Hardwork.
Best Basket Documentary: Come Fly with Me
- 2010: Denver Nuggets General Manager and Executive Vice President of basketball operations
- 2013 NBA Executive of the Year
- Director of the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Africa program,
- 2019 NBA champion
All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.
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