The reaction to Nelson Mandela’s death was collective on Thursday, with a mix of sadness and global admiration coming from all corners of the world.
And that included a variety of NBA players, who expressed their gratitude for the legacy left behind by one of South Africa’s, and the world’s, greatest humanitarians.
But of those, it may have hit Hasheem Thabeet, a Tanzania native who remains active in African communities, the hardest.
On Thursday, Thabeet posted this message and photo on his Instragram: “WORDS CANNOT EXPRESS HOW I FEEL… REST IN PEACE MADIBA. YOUR WORDS AND WISDOM WILL LIVE ON WITHIN US FOR GENERATIONS. FATHER OF AFRICA | TRUE LEADER | TRUE KING.”
And during shootaround on Friday, Thabeet expanded on his feelings toward Mandela.
“One of the people that a lot of us from there grew up looking up to,” Thabeet said. “There’s really not that many words to explain him, everything explains itself. He was a great man that was so loved.”
In the Instagram picture, Thabeet is shown holding ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, an autobiographical work written by Mandela.
“I grew up knowing about him, reading about him,” Thabeet said. “I got the book because I was going to South Africa. I went on the trip and I wanted to meet him, but at that time they weren’t taking no visitors. It’s a great, great legacy left behind for sure. Most definitely the most influential person I know.”
When asked about what impressed him most about Mandela’s legacy, Thabeet said: “Generosity. He was very generous. He believe in what he do. That’s inspirational for me. One of the most inspiring people that I grew up knowing about. Sad, sad day.”