Ottawa Honors Shayok

by Lauren Rosen

For young basketball players around the world, getting drafted into the NBA is a dream come true.

When Marial Shayok reached that goal, he shared his dream with an entire city.

Selected 54th overall this past June by the Philadelphia 76ers, the 24-year old became the first player from Ottawa to be selected in the NBA Draft.

A few months later, Shayok’s city showed its appreciation for the young star.

Gathered at the Ottawa Redblacks CFL game earlier this summer, Shayok was given VIP treatment as he was honored on the field by a sold-out crowd.

“It was cool, being in front of my whole city,” Shayok said. “It was a great feeling for everybody, being the first one out of Ottawa. Everyone feels like they’re a part of it.”

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Shayok grew up in the South End neighborhood of Ottawa, where he remembers playing pickup at a local court throughout his childhood.

“We call it ‘The Cage.’ That’s where I’d been playing until I got to high school,” Shayok said. “Pickup runs all summer, every day.”

Shayok says the spirit of Ottawa - one that’s rooted in kindness - has shaped his personality to this day. 

“Ottawa I think is the nicest city in the world,” Shayok said. “In Canada, you get the reputation of being nice. It’s almost like being in the islands or something, but without the weather.”

Now, as he enters his first professional season, Shayok is fusing his kind nature with the spirit demanded of NBA competition.

Pleasantries take a backseat when he steps between the lines. 

“I’m starting to play with guys that I was watching on TV for the last few years. It’s definitely starting to sink in. You can’t really be starstruck, because you’ll get exposed,” Shayok said.

Shayok says he’s ready to embrace the challenges ahead with his home city of Ottawa - and all that it taught him -  in his corner:

“[In] Ottawa, everyone’s having pretty much a good day. That’s what I try to bring every day. Just try to be nice,” Shayok said. “I don’t have too many bad days.”


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