ASIAN VOICES

Rui Hachimura Is First Japan-Born Player Selected In NBA Draft's First Round

The Gonzaga University forward was selected by the Washington Wizards on Thursday.

Rui Hachimura has made history. 

The Gonzaga University forward was selected by the Washington Wizards in the first round of Thursday’s NBA draft, making him the first Japan-born player in the league’s history to be picked that early. 

The 21-year-old, who was born in the Toyama Prefecture to a Japanese mother and Beninese father, honored his roots on draft night, sporting a suit that had art from both cultures splashed inside it.

He also bounced between Japanese and English while answering questions during his draft press conference. 

Hachimura has made waves during the past season, earning multiple accolades including being named West Coast Conference Player of the Year, a Naismith Trophy finalist and a First-Team All-American.

The forward has said in the past that he hopes to use his rising star to inspire other mixed-race kids in Japan. 

“They have a lot of challenges in sports, not just basketball but other sports,” Hachimura said of mixed-race athletes in Japan, according to The Undefeated. “There is a lot of discrimination. It’s not crazy, but I don’t want them to feel bad for themselves. I want them to enjoy playing sports in Japan.”

He added: “There are a lot of half-Japanese and half-black kids, especially in the Tokyo area. I want to be the guy where they say, ‘I want to be like him.’”

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