Theo Ndinisa (17) used to walk for half an hour through crime-ridden areas just to see the local basketball club, the Barberton Giants, to train.
A few years later, he was chosen to represent Mpumalanga. Now some of his friends call him LeBron and he aims to become a world famous athlete.
Theo, a grade 11 student from HoÃ«rskool Barberton, has played for the provincial under-18 team this year and will try to make the national team next year.
He first became interested in basketball when he saw the Air Jordan logo, which was made in honor of basketball player Michael Jordan. At the age of 12, he started watching the training of the home team.
âI used to go to the local basketball court two to three times a week to watch the Barberton Giants practice. It was dangerous due to the crime in the area. My parents told me not to go, but I forced myself to go and watch.
This is where Theo met Coach Blessed. âHe’s a really good guy. Even if he could see that I am a good player, he never told me. He pointed out to me the flaws that I could correct. I’m really grateful to have a person like this telling me to be better.
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When he started playing he played against adult men taller than himself. âWatching basketball was a very different experience from actually playing; it was very physical. This prompted me to ask my parents to buy me a ball. Every day I got better until the day I started to grow taller. My parents are not even that big. I am the tallest person in our house.
Today, he is around 1.92 meters tall. “Besides being tall enough for my age, I can also jump high, which makes me a strong opponent to face.”
Theo usually plays positions number 2 or 3, which is the shooting guard and the small striker.
His dream is to become an international player representing South Africa, to play in the United States NBA or in the Euro League. “I want to become a paid athlete, play the sport I love.”
His favorite basketball team right now is the Milwaukee Bucks. âI like the team, because there was this kid who was also poor, Giannis Antetokounmpo. He had an opportunity, grabbed it and got awesome. Last year he won a championship. It’s really inspiring because he was selling CDs and now he’s the most important player.
Theo said basketball keeps him out of trouble and the streets. âIt keeps me from doing bad things. When you’re an athlete, you can’t smoke or drink. It makes me a better person and keeps me disciplined.
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