Former President Barack Obama has been known to show off his ball handling skills over the years and has now become a strategic partner and minority owner in the National Basketball Association’s Africa business venture, which oversees the Basketball Africa League.
The BAL includes 12 teams, and league games air in 215 countries and territories. In 10 years, the NBA predicts it will be a premier sport throughout the continent. Details of Obama’s equity stake weren’t revealed but he’ll be helping with the league’s social-responsibility efforts, including programs and partnerships across the continent 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. 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,” Obama said in a statement to ESPN.
The NBA launched BAL in May and the league is already valued at $1 billion following a successful inaugural season. The league saw rap star J. Cole make his professional basketball debut this season when he played in several games with the Rwanda Patriots. Other investors include Dikembe Mutombo, Grant Hill, and Junior Bridgeman.
Obama’s equity in the deal wasn’t revealed but the former president further shared his excitement about his latest business venture.
“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. 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,” he further added in the statement.
Check out the video below as Obama discusses how basketball has impacted his life and becoming part of the NBA’s Africa movement.
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