Former President Barack Obama is working to use his global influence to help the NBA’s African arm continue to grow and give back to communities across the continent.
NBA Africa conducts the association’s business on the continent, including the Basketball Africa League (BAL) and the president-turned-producer has expanded his portfolio by joining its business side as a minority stake owner and a strategic partner.
In the new role, Obama aims to “help advance the league’s social responsibility efforts across the continent, including programs and partnerships that support greater gender equality and economic inclusion.”
“The NBA has always been a great ambassador for the United States—using the game to create deeper connections around the world, and in Africa, basketball has the power to promote opportunity, wellness, equality, and empowerment across the continent,” said the “A Promised Land” author in a statement. “By investing in communities, promoting gender equality, and cultivating the love of the game of basketball, I believe that NBA Africa can make a difference for so many of Africa’s young people.”
“I’ve been impressed by the league’s commitment to Africa, including the leadership shown by so many African players who want to give back to their own countries and communities,” he continued. “That’s why I’m proud to join the team at NBA Africa and look forward to a partnership that benefits the youth of so many countries.”
The Higher Ground Productions co-founder also plans to use his new role to create and fund Obama Foundation youth and leadership programs across Africa, contributing to the “ambitious growth plans” that the newly formed league, which was launched in May, intends to see through.
“We have ambitious growth plans for NBA Africa and having President Obama join our efforts is a recognition that through sport, Africa can take its rightful place on the world stage,” said NBA Africa CEO Victor Williams. “We look forward to working with President Obama and our strategic investors to use basketball as an economic growth engine across the continent and as a platform to improve the health and wellness of one of the world’s youngest and fastest-growing populations.”
Fans of rapper J. Cole may remember his short-lived stint in the Basketball League of Africa, which falls under the NBA Africa umbrella and currently has 12 teams. The “Crooked Smile” rapper earned a spot with the Rwanda Patriots Basketball Club and during his brief time in the BAL, scored five points, three assists and five rebounds in the total 45 minutes he played across three preliminary games.