Raptors' Boucher inspires teen players in Montreal, where he was a dishwasher
It wasn’t that long ago that Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher was simply a dishwasher who would shoot hoops at a YMCA gym in Montreal.
Boucher grew up in Montreal, where coach Loic Rwigema would eventually spot him playing pickup basketball at the gym.
“My brother was running an academy, so I called him up and said, ‘Hey I think I may have found a gem for you to coach,’” Rwigema told CTV News.
Few could predict that moment would turn out to be the first step in Boucher’s run to the NBA, where he was one of 13 Canadians who played in the league this season.
Now that his team is facing Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, he’s inspiring a group of young basketball players in his Quebec hometown.
Some of these aspiring ballers – kids under 14 years old from high school Durocher College -- are competing in a Jr. NBA international tournament and feel connected to the power forward who unwittingly left a mark on them.
The boys say basketball is life for them. They hope to dribble in the Raptors’ footsteps in June and win a chance to represent Canada.
One player told CTV News, “I think it is great for diversity of sports here, because in Quebec it is a lot about hockey and we are trying to put basketball on the map.”
Boucher himself acknowledged his responsibility to give back to the community that helped hone his skills.
“Everybody wants to be a role model and if I can get some kids to pick up their shoes and wanting to do something, that is good for me,” he told CTV News.
And Rwigema is proud that his former player has nearly reached the pinnacle which all players aspire to: an NBA championship.
“I think the kid is living his dream and he’s went a long way from being a dishwasher to being a pro player for his country's only basketball team,” he said.
And he’s thrilled that despite Boucher’s uncommon talent, he’s also proof the pro league isn't completely out of reach for children.
“It is good to set yourself some big dreams because if you shoot for the stars, you might end up on the moon -- and that is not a bad thing,” he said.