‘It’s so much bigger than basketball’
Bisons Men's Basketball guard Bolatito 'Tito' Obasoto is a leader on and off the court
For 13 years of his life, Bisons sparkplug guard Bolatito ‘Tito’ Obasoto lived in Ibadan, Nigeria with his family. It’s the third-largest city by population in Nigeria, and Obasoto went to one of the most prestigious schools in the country.
He vividly remembers playing soccer in the fields with his friends. Back home, footy is the biggest sport, and basketball was, at the time, not a major focus for Obasoto.
“A lot of the times we wouldn’t even have a soccer ball,” he says. “We’d get little containers of a beverage can and we’d play soccer with it. It was the most fun ever. We were kids being ignorant. Not a lot of stress.”
And while Obasoto lived a relatively sheltered life, he and his family still felt the impact of corruption in the country. Regardless as to where you lived, there were warning signs of “ill-intent, local thieves and armed robbery,” he recalls.
Over time, Obasoto’s parents longed for more for their family. The desire for safety and security brought them to Canada.
Making the transition to high school at the time, Obasoto had few connections. And because his parents were busy working, providing for the family, he had time on his hands.
That’s where basketball enters the picture.
“My parents used to come home late, because they were working all the time, so I would go to the Boys and Girls Club, because that was the only place I could be and I could stay until my parents came back. They had a basketball team over there and I joined the basketball team,” he recalls.
“I remember vividly, I just couldn’t make a layup. I was just so mad. Me wanting to make the layup turned into me wanting to make a jump shot, turned into my trying to go between the legs and make a cross-over. Now I’m here. I just fell in love with the game.”
Obasoto credits Peter Smith, who’s helped countless African immigrants develop a love for basketball, for introducing him to the sport. His face lights up as he talks about the early mentor.
“To this day I talk to him. He comes to my games. He’s the one that really motivated me. He saw the potential in me before anybody else did really.
“I am honestly so grateful that I get to play at this level. I feel like it would be a disservice if I didn’t play with emotion or the passion that I do because I would just be disrespecting the game and the opportunity that I’ve been given. I enjoy every single moment of it.”
In the classroom, he’s in his third year in civil engineering. He loves “the physics and the math and bringing an idea to life.”
Aside from that, Obasoto is a leader in every sense of the word.
“As a black athlete, you can do a lot more things that just be good at your sport. The biggest part is learning how to inspire people and give people a better sense of oh, I can do that just based off your actions and the way you carry yourself. You have to think bigger than basketball. It’s so much bigger than basketball,” he says.
Read the full story on Go Bisons website.
Catch Tito and the Bisons basketball team February 21-25 at the Canada West Men’s Basketball Championship Playoff Tournament.