Bismack Biyombo doesn’t want to be that guy! The one who leaves the world and says, “I didn’t do anything.” He’s chasing his goal way beyond the basketball court.
Motivated by the desire to give back to his home country of Congo and to the world, he set up a Foundation and has been quietly changing the lives of hundreds of children by building schools, basketball courts, running training camps, doing what he knows best…creating opportunity for children who would otherwise have none. This same motivation drew him to Right To Play as an athlete ambassador.
Bismack visited Right To Play programs in the Middle East where he played football with the girls and boys living in the region’s refugee camps, before sharing his life story with them. Recently, he ran basketball clinics for refugee children in displacement camps on the Thai/Myanmar border, as well as for young offenders participating in our programs in youth detention centers in Thailand. “It’s great to be happy,” says Bismack. “But it’s even better to bring happiness to others and inspire them.”
Born and raised in Lubumbashi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bismack grew up poor and hungry. “When I was 12, I started dreaming about playing basketball and making it my job,” says Bismack, who believes his love of and access to play rewarded him with life-changing opportunities. “All you can do is hold on to your dream and keep working at it as much as you can without losing hope.”
At 16, Bismack’s dreams came true when a Portuguese basketball coach saw him at a youth tournament in Yemen and signed him to a professional team. Today, he is the power forward for the NBA Orlando Magic team. “Basketball gave me my opportunity in life,” says Bismack. “That’s what Right To Play is doing for children. These kids face similar obstacles to the ones I faced and more, because many live in refugee camps and can't move freely. I want to support Right To Play by impacting and inspiring kids who, for the most part, have been forgotten.”
It’s this shared experience, says Bismack, that connects him so naturally to the young people in our programs. His ability to overcome his challenges and succeed resonates with the children, filling them with hope. And Bismack’s authenticity and credibility reinforces our belief that play continues to be a driving force in shaping the lives of children around the world to succeed and lead.