After a summer of not knowing where he was going to end up, former NBA Milwaukee Bucks player Luc Mbah was happy to secure a deal with the Clippers for the 2015-2016 season.
‘It feels good. It kind of shows you that everything happens for a reason – whatever you’re going through, whether it’s good or bad, there is always something good and positive that comes out of it and that’s what is going on now. So, I am excited to be here and we have a really good team and the season is going to be more exciting.’
Luc has the full support of Doc Rivers, current head coach and president of basketball operations for the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. The coach has nothing but fond praise for him. You can hear the excitement in Luc’s voice when he talks about the positive feedback he’s been getting.
‘It’s good, you know, because I like to do a lot to help my team, because it is something I have always done my whole life. So it’s fun to be recognised for that now and obviously having an impact on this team means it is time to do something special’.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute has had an interesting path till now. He was born in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Although he was raised in Yaoundé, Luc and his family have close ties to the village of Bafia (Bia Messe), where his father is a chieftain and where Luc is a prince.
I was interested in finding out if where he comes from influenced him.
‘It means a lot obviously. Everytime I go and represent my country, my village, anywhere in the world, it’s an honour and a pleasure.’
He used to train with a hoop attached to a street lamp.
Like most boys in Africa, Luc grew up playing football and only learnt about basketball when his brother started teaching him. Their dad saw his interest and brought back videos of NBA games.
Two years after teaching himself to play – he used to train with a hoop attached to a street lamp – Luc was called up by the Cameroon national youth team. Not long after that, Luc participated in the NBA’s inaugural Basketball Without Borders camp in South Africa.
Luc’s growing interest in the sports allowed him to learn about other successful African legends – and meet them: Congolese NBA Legend Dikembe Mutombo took a shining to Luc.
Years later, he landed sponsorship to study at college in Florida; then came his first NBA contract with the fast-growing and popular Bucks. Luc got off to a great start with the Bucks and quickly became a fan favourite. His strong play, especially on defence led to him overtaking Charlie Villanueva as the Bucks’ starting power forward only nine games into the season.
Since then, he has spent time at the Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Philadelphia 76ers and now he finds himself at the LA Clippers.
Away from basketball, Luc continues to inspire and lead the way. He has been heavily involved with the Ebola campaign, where he joined up with NBA star Serge Ibaka to raise both awareness and funds to fight the epidemic.
‘There are good things happening in Africa too.’
‘We are glad that Ebola is now at a zero in a few countries. I hope not to take part in a lot of them because there are good things happening in Africa too. But, I try to do as much as I can to help when I can.’
He has also devoted his time to the Basketball Without Borders programme, the very programme that got him where he is now. As well as BWB, Luc runs the Mbah a Moute summer basketball camps in Cameroon, where young players are prepared and selected to represent Cameroon at the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders.
Luc is one of my favourite NBA African players simply because he owns his culture.
‘I think the best thing for basketball in Cameroon and Africa, in general, is to develop our infrastructure. That has always been a problem for us. But more than the infrastructure, is to develop the coaching staff. Just giving those guys knowledge will be worth more. What we are doing is building a few courts and doing some coaching clinics to help them.’
Luc is one of my favourite NBA African players simply because he owns his culture. He is all about Africa and the softly-spoken African prince is a shining light in the league for hopefuls wanting to follow their dreams from Africa to the NBA.
From his fashion swagger, to his big heart, Luc is beyond awesome – he’s the coolest prince on the continent.
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Follow Luc on Twitter @mbahamoute