Planting Seeds

Spurs forward Boris Diaw explains the work he’s doing to help educate and teach basketball to young players in Senegal.
by July 29, 2015

as told to Peter Walsh

I traveled back to my father’s homeland, Senegal, for the first time in a few years to visit my family and also to host a clinic at the SEED Academy. I’ve been working with SEED for years but realized that not much was being done for young women basketball players in Senegal, so I partnered with SEED to help launch the girls school. I’m really dedicated to helping the girls in the classroom and on the court and leading the clinic was an amazing experience.

It has been great being able to support the program and help run the women’s academy. When I arrived, the girls were really happy to see me, and they were smiling a lot and wanted to show that they can do great things on the court and in the classroom. It was a short clinic but we were able to go through a lot of drills and the older girls helped me coach, which was really cool. When we first practiced in the morning, the 16-year-old girls helped me to teach the 11-, 12- and 13-year-old girls how to dribble, pass and shoot. When we came back in the afternoon, we made the drills a little harder but the girls picked it up right away. It showed them that there is always room for improvement and you can add little things to each drill to get better. It was fun to see improvement that quickly.

During my visit to Senegal, I also went to visit my father’s hometown of Mpal. He is now the mayor there, so I got a great reception when I came. I established the Babac’Ards foundation in Senegal a decade ago to help develop education, and I hadn’t been back in three or four years—being able to see how much the town and the country had changed was amazing. Coming back as the mayor’s son and an NBA Champion caused a lot of excitement and everyone was very happy to see me. The whole trip was really magical.

I captured my travels on Instagram (@diawboris) and on a physical camera. Earlier this year, I went on a safari trip and brought my camera with me and took photos of wildlife that were used for the July edition of National Geographic For Kids. Each offseason I try and get better with my camera—I have a really deep passion for photography and sharing my travels through pictures.

portrait by Kevin Couliau