When Pascal Siakam was in his young teens attending a minor seminary in Cameroon – and mostly playing soccer in his free time – he likely never imagined he’d be playing in the NBA Finals.
Studying for the priest-hood, it turned out, was more of his father’s idea, and not a personal calling. Now-25-year-old forward for the Toronto Raptors, who are playing in their first Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
The 6-foot-9 player, drafted by the Raptors in 2016, also is a possible candidate for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. He made just one 3-point shot in his first season; he now averages one 3-point shot made per game.
In 2017, ESPN writer Jackie MacMullan went to Cameroon to visit Siakam’s hometown of Douala and St Andrews Seminary in Bafia for a feature story.
She interviewed the semi-nary’s director, Msgr Armel Collins Ndjama, who said through an interpreter that he knew early on that Pascal’s father had a vision “and Pascal was not sharing it.”
“I knew we would probably not be able to train him to be a priest, but I still hoped we could teach him to be a man,” the priest added.
Siakam similarly agreed that he did not think he had a vocation to the priesthood, but he also didn’t want to go against his father. “There isn’t a better man I’ve known in my life,” he told ESPN about his dad, who died before Siakam’s first college game after complications following a car accident.