The gymnasium erupted when Mohamed Bamba leaped over the WAB basketball coach's head for a slam dunk.
Bamba, who stands 6'11" tall (210cm) and is ESPN's 5th ranked American high school basketball player, stopped into Western Academy of Beijing on March 7. In China for his Grade 12 service project, he visited the Tigers' practice session to inspire the players with a discussion and have some fun on the court.
In Grade 4, Bamba's best friend made the local basketball team, but he was cut. He was devastated. What felt like the toughest moment in his young life turned into his most inspiring. It motivated him to commit himself to improvement, and he is now on a path toward the National Basketball Association (NBA).
"Basketball has opened a lot of doors for me," he told WAB's varsity, junior varsity and Middle School basketball teams. "It's a platform for me to act on my passion, do what I love, and show my true character."
It wasn't until Bamba entered Grade 10 that he decided to pursue basketball as a career. His visit to WAB was a living example for students that following a passion can lead to success, no matter where you start or what odds are stacked against you.
And that idea was quite literally "slammed" home for the WAB student-athletes when Bamba began showing off his skills, first jumping over WAB Coach Hui Tu's head to slam dunk the ball and then continuing to demonstrate other skillful dunks.
WAB students cheered and congratulated Bamba on his impressive skills, and then connected with him on a personal level, chatting on the court and sharing experiences related to basketball, school and life in high school.
"Mohamed's is a great story for the students to hear and learn from," Coach Hui said of the visit. "Never give up on the things you're passionate about in life. Hard work and dedication put Mo where he is right now, and that is true for any of our students and athletes."
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