On Friday, Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng was named the NBA’s Community Assist Award recipient for his work this offseason.
If you’ve been following Dieng and his work, this comes as no surprise, and you know that his work goes beyond just this offseason.
Dieng has given so much to those around him, most notably in his home country of Senegal. He’s used his platform in the NBA to benefit those who need it most in Senegal.
Through his Gorgui Dieng Foundation and in partnership with MATTER, a Minnesota-based global health nonprofit, Dieng has done so much, in so many different areas. MATTER deserves plenty of credit for helping Dieng, but this was all his vision.
Dieng has helped donate life-saving medical equipment and supplies, likely impacting close to a million lives. He’s built demonstration farms to help support sustainable agriculture and better equip farmers while also giving people access to nutritious food.
“It’s very important. Like I said, I came from a different culture, a different background. Life is different back home from here and I think it’s important,” Dieng said. “The lifestyle I have, I’m trying to help other people live the same, or even better. It’s not fair to me if I get sick for example, I get treated and everything I need here, but people back there, they can’t. If I have (the means) to help them or make their life better in any way, I’m going to do that.”
Dieng has also given back specifically to the game of basketball, the game that gave him the opportunity he has today.
“It’s incredible. An award like that, given to one individual, you can’t put into words what Gorgui really does for people in his country and just people in general,” Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders said. “The fact that he’s able to ultimately save lives with the resources that he’s able to raise, donate, give, you know, it’s something that a lot of people, we don’t get the chance to do something like that.”
As a teenager out of Senegal back in 2009, Dieng was invited to the 2009 Basketball Without Borders camp in Johannesburg, South Africa, as a top prospect from his continent who was just being discovered.
It's safe to say things have worked out for Dieng. Fast forward 10 years later, and here Dieng is, living his NBA dream.
Since, Dieng has given back whenever he can to Basketball Without Borders Africa, and also attended the SEED Project Hoop Forum. This offseason, Dieng was part of the forum’s panel and clinics, and also mentored students. Later in the week, he helped coach 60 of the top players from 29 countries across Africa.
“To me, that’s the best award you can win the NBA,” Dieng’s teammate Karl-Anthony Towns said. “I’ve personally strived for that award myself and It just shows this is bigger than basketball and he’s the epitome of it.”
The hope for Dieng would be to have another ‘Gorgui Dieng’ come from Africa and be able to give back the way he has.
Dieng will be presented with the award prior to Friday night’s game against the Warriors by NBA Cares Ambassador (and Hall of Famer) Bob Lanier. In addition, Kaiser Permanente and the NBA will donate $10,000 on Dieng’s behalf to MATTER.