'I haven't been home in 5 years': Koloko on his dedication to NBA dream

On the latest episode of "Hustle Play with Chris Boucher", Raptors rookie Christian Koloko discusses his journey to the NBA and how committed he's been to realizing his dream. The full episode can be watched on our YouTube channel or listened to on the Hustle Play podcast feed.

Video Transcript

- What do you think you've learned about yourself so far in this new atmosphere, being in the NBA, being in a new city, getting-- just it's a new life.

CHRISTIAN KOLOKO: Yeah, it is a new life. But I don't think I'll learn anything really new about myself, you know? I left Cameroon when I was 17. And I came to the States, and it was already a new life for me.

And then the good thing for me is that I went to live with my sister in LA. So she was already living in LA. So she actually had me.

And then two years after that, I went to Arizona. It's a different state. So I was living by myself.

And now, I'm here in Toronto, living by myself. So I already learned a lot about myself the last couple of years, you know? So I think right now, I'm just trying to make all of it altogether, and just try to be the best version of myself, you know? And I think it's-- I'm doing pretty good right now. But I feel like this is--

CHRIS BOUCHER: You gotta give him a couple of years, you know?


CHRIS BOUCHER: Just get settled in. And then after that, you're going to learn some stuff about him, for sure.

CHRISTIAN KOLOKO: Right now, I'm just-- it's just the beginning, man. It's just the beginning. Right now, I'm just trying to--

CHRIS BOUCHER: And get the fame.

CHRISTIAN KOLOKO: --to fit in on the team, and just try to do my job, basically.

CHRIS BOUCHER: The cars and the canoes.

- Now, I know you're very proud of being from Cameroon. And a lot of young boys and girls over there, who are getting into the sport of basketball, OK, now what advice would you give to them, trying to chase those hoop dreams?

CHRISTIAN KOLOKO: Man, the advice I would give to them is simple-- just trust-- like, trust the process, like Joel Embiid always says. Trust the process. Like, you just got to believe in yourself. You know, if you put the work in, you have chances to get here.

Because like me, when I started playing, man, I had no idea I was going to get to the NBA. I was just playing basketball for fun. Like, I was playing soccer every day.

I was just playing basketball once every two weeks or once every week just for fun. It wasn't even organized basketball, man. It was just for fun.

And then I started putting more work in into basketball. And I started getting better. And then I moved to the States. And I was like, man, if Pascal made it to the NBA, Joel Embiid made it to NBA, we're from the same country, man. I don't think they are that different than me.

So for me, the advice I can give them is just, man, if you believe in yourself, and you put the work in, man, you have a chance. You have a chance, for sure.

- I guess you second that, right, Chris?


- You second that advice?

CHRIS BOUCHER: Oh, yeah, for sure. I mean, you know, I think a lot of people, they-- different circumstances and all that. But the one thing that I always say is, like, you work hard-- if you do the right thing and you work hard, usually, good things happen. You might not see it now, but it's coming somewhere.

And you know, especially for a kid-- like I said, I started old. You started old. Pascal started old. A lot of people, they're not-- if you start when you're 8, 10, 11, 12, you've already got so much time in front of guys like us that are in the league now. You can't tell me that you can't make it with a couple more years in, and dedication, and hard work.

- You ever wake up some days and think about how did I get here?

CHRISTIAN KOLOKO: Yeah, for sure, for sure. But every time I think about that, I'm just like, man, I put the work in. I know I put the work in.

CHRIS BOUCHER: Say that thing.

CHRISTIAN KOLOKO: I did put the work in, man.


CHRISTIAN KOLOKO: I did put the work in. Because I haven't been home in five years. I haven't been home in five years. And because-- since I move here, I had to go. When I moved here, I was coming here, I wanted to make it to the NBA.

So every summer, I have a lot of my friends, they used to go home, go back home, or go on vacation. I was always here, and just working-- working on my game, working on my body. Because I was really, really skinny when I got here. I was, like, 170.

And I was working on my body, working on my game. And I just kept getting better. Like, if you go see my progression from my first year in Arizona to right now, man, I kept getting better.

And I just believe in myself, you know? I just believe in myself. And I put the work in. And right now, I'm here right now. So--

CHRIS BOUCHER: Still getting better.

CHRISTIAN KOLOKO: Yeah, exactly.