Masai Ujiri is the general manager of the Toronto Raptors of the NBA. He is a native of Zaria, Nigeria.
The son of a doctor mother and a hospital administrator/nursing educationist father, Ujiri originally played soccer as a youth before focusing on basketball. His interest with basketball started as a 13-year old playing with friends on outdoor basketball courts in northern Nigeria. This interest would be fed by American sports magazines and VHS tapes of NBA games or basketball movies. He admired Hakeem Olajuwon, an NBA star who was born in Nigeria.
Ujiri grew to be 6-foot-4 and emigrated to the United States to play two years of basketball at Bismarck State College, then transferred to Montana State University-Billings, though he left the latter school after one semester. He spent six years playing professionally in Europe. After ending a professional playing career in 2002, Ujiri worked as a youth coach in Nigeria. During an NBA summer league game in Boston, he met David Thorpe, who eventually introduced him to college coaches. In 2002, Ujiri was accompanying a young Nigerian player to a draft tryout in Orlando when he impressed Magic scouting director Gary Brokaw, who then introduced Ujiri to coach Doc Rivers and GM John Gabriel. Ujiri then became an unpaid scout for the NBA's Orlando Magic, paying his own way when he had to and sharing rooms with scouts or players when he could.