Igor Christian Ibaka-Kabasele is a Jacksonville (Fl)-based philanthropist who played basketball in the NCAA and in Spain.
6’8, 245-lbs (2,4 m, 111 kg) Igor was born in Kinshasa ( Democratic Republic of the Congo). Igor Ibaka is fluent in Catalan, English, French, Lingala, and Spanish. He grew up on the other side of the Congo River, in Brazzaville (Republic of the Congo). Both his parents played basketball; his father, Désiré Ibaka was a member of the Congolese National selection, and his mother, Godelieve Mulamba played for the Zaire selection (now Democratic Republic of the Congo). He is married and has a daughter, and he is the younger brother of Toronto Raptors’ forward Serge Ibaka.
When he was a teenager, he was noticed for his skills on the court, and was offered a chance to move to Spain, where he played for 7 years. He later moved to the USA, and played in the NJCAA, (Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College) and NCAA, Division 1 (Oklahoma State University) and Division 2 (Midwestern State University).
After his graduation in Sports Management, he was offered opportunities to move back to Europe, and play professional basketball. But he elected to stay in the USA, work in corporate, and start a nonprofit to give back.
Igor founded the Igor Ibaka Foundation based on the struggles he encountered as a teen while playing basketball abroad. He distinctly remembers the disappointment of not being able to compete against peers due to high dropout rates, mostly because they couldn’t average a 2.0 GPA to play high school sports. He was also affected by academic hardship when he was recruited to play at OSU but lacked the 3.0 transfer GPA. Igor took a year off to study and improve his GPA; however, most of his peers explained the need to work to earn money as the sole reasons for dropping out of school.
Igor also realized that many of his teammates faced literacy challenges and believed education was not at all important. For this reason, he decided to establish a foundation focused on the fundamentals of reading and math. Many of the Ibaka Foundation programs will focus on athletically gifted kids that need a little extra attention in the academic areas.