Now an NBA champion, Toronto Raptor’s forward Pascal Siakam got an unusual start to his basketball career as a seminarian in Cameroon.
Siakam was born in Douala, Cameroon’s largest city and economic capital on the coast of the Atlantic. At the age of 11, he was enrolled by his father Tchamo at Saint Andrew’s Seminary in Bafia, “hand-picked to embody his family’s Catholicism.”
He initially planned on becoming a priest, but became a reluctant seminarian over time. At 15, He would break the rules in hopes director Father Armel Collins Ndjama would dismiss him.
“He turned from a very calm child into a very stubborn boy. At times, I considered dismissing him, but his academic results were so remarkable, we kept him.”
Father Collins recognized that Siakam was not called to the priesthood. Despite leaving at the age of 18 after graduation, Siakam called seminary “the best thing that ever happened” to him.
“I understood early on that his father had a vision, and Pascal was not sharing it. I knew we would probably not be able to train him to be a priest, but I still hoped we could teach him to be a man.”
Before seminary, Siakam said he couldn’t even make his own bed, wash dishes, or do laundry. He believes seminary instilled in him the discipline that helped him succeed in his NBA career.
“Seminary helped me focus on myself and try to better myself and work hard for what I wanted. It could have been easy for me to be the type of kid that didn’t work for what he wanted cause as a kid, I had everything I needed.”
Siakam credits his father, calling him the greatest man he’s ever known.
“I think I know why my dad made me go. He was giving me all the tools I’d need to succeed. Just as important as his dream for his son to play in the NBA was his desire for me to become my own man.”
Last night, Pascal Siakam scored 26 points in 46 minutes of play, going from seminarian to NBA champion.