Known for Blocking Shots, Biyombo Dishes Out Another Assist Back Home

By Sam Perley
(Photo courtesy of @bismackbiyombo)
by Quinton Wash

On the basketball court, Bismack Biyombo is a rebound-grabbing, rim-protecting, defense-first, all-out-hustle big man. Off of it though, he’s more like your typical, traditional point guard who relishes in setting others up for success.

Earlier this week, Biyombo – acquired by the organization on July 8 in a trade with the Orlando Magic – was part of a rather distinguished group that helped celebrate the opening of the Sauti Kuu Foundation’s new sports and education facility in Kogela, Kenya.

Headlining this particular event was former U.S. President Barack Obama and his sister, Auma, who is the founder and Executive Chairperson of the Sauti Kuu Foundation. The pair – whose father, Barack Sr., is originally from Kenya – were also accompanied at the launch by NBA VP and Managing Director of NBA Africa, Amadou Gallo Fall and Toronto Raptors President, Masai Ujiri.

“[I] had a privilege to be at the opening of Sauti Kuu’s new sports and education facility in Kenya,” Biyombo stated on his Twitter account. “To be able to see Auma Obama’s work, it’s overwhelming. This is just proving that Africa is moving in the right direction.”

The goal of the Sauti Kuu Foundation – which means “strong voices” in Swahili – is to
create platforms for disadvantaged children around the world, help them discover their strengths and maximize their potential in order to live successful, independent lives. Projects in the past have revolved around areas including personal development, educational training and sustainable economic growth.

Along with a long-time basketball enthusiast in Barack Obama, Biyombo and the children on hand took part in christening the facility’s brand-new court. Basketball has grown immensely in popularity on the African continent and should continue to flourish with more infrastructure and resources in place. Last season, there were 12 native-born African players on opening night rosters with several more holding first-generation status.

Efforts like this one at Sauti Kuu have become increasingly and pleasantly common for Biyombo ever since he left his native Democratic Republic of the Congo as a teenager to train abroad in Spain. The 6-9 center, who was drafted seventh overall in 2011 and spent his first four NBA seasons in Charlotte, has long recognized his responsibility as an ambassador for Africa and takes it very seriously.

While the offseasons are usually a time for rest and relaxation, Biyombo spends his traveling back home to help a myriad of countries in the areas of sport, education and life skills. Amongst the different outlets he utilizes include The Bismack Biyombo Foundation, Basketball Without Borders and the NBA Africa Game, which he’ll take part in for a third time on Aug. 4, 2018.

“Basketball has taken me places and given me the opportunity to meet people that I never thought I would meet,” added Biyombo via Twitter.

There has never been a Kenyan-born player in the NBA, although that certainly may (and probably will) change someday down the road. And when it happens, it very well could be because of the helping hand extended by Bismack Biyombo and others to the Sauti Kuu Foundation many years earlier.