Rudy Gobert Reflects on Family Members' Racism Toward Him as a Child: 'We Don't Want That Baby in Our House'

Even though Gobert considers it to be a "painful memory," the Timberwolves big man believes it is a story he needs to share.

Basketball player in a jersey with "WOLVES 27" on it looks intently during a game
Image via Getty/Christian Petersen
Basketball player in a jersey with "WOLVES 27" on it looks intently during a game

Minnesota Timberwolves star Rudy Gobert opened up in an essay for The Players' Tribune about experiencing racism as a baby from close family members.

The three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year recipient detailed a conversation between his mother and members on her side of the family who did not welcome a young Rudy to "this big Christmas dinner at a certain person's house."

"It's a painful memory, but one that I need to share," Gobert wrote in the piece about the watershed moment, which occurred in his home country of France.

Gobert's mother, who is white, met his father, who is Black, while he was playing professional basketball in France. His dad returned to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean when Rudy was two years old.

The 31-year-old said certain relatives were adamant that his mom would not be allowed into the home if she brought Rudy with her. "We don't want that baby in our house," a family member allegedly told her.

His mother chose Rudy over her family.

"She was devastated," Gobert wrote. "And obviously, she spent Christmas with me instead. She told them, 'If that's the way you think, then you're not going to see me anymore. Not at Christmas. Not ever. I don't want anything to do with you.'"

Person in basketball jersey standing with arm around older woman, both smiling

From that moment on, Gobert's mother became his protector, provider, and motivation. The Timberwolves big man remembered being either six or seven years old when he went to a charity event at a store and was allowed to pick a toy he wanted for Christmas.  

"That's when I started to realize what my life back then was like compared to other kids, and having that feeling of happiness, mixed with sadness, mixed with hunger…. As I was playing with this new toy, I remembered thinking 'One day, we won't have to worry about anything,'" he wrote.

Before he became obsessed with basketball at the age of 12, Gobert had an "iron belief" that regardless of what the future held for him, he was going to be successful. The following year, Rudy received an opportunity to attend a basketball academy that would keep him away from his mother on weekdays.

Even though his two older siblings were away at college, Rudy's mother implored him to pursue his dreams. "At the time, all she told me was, 'Go after your dreams. I'll be fine,'" Gobert recalled.

His dreams became a reality less than a decade later when Gobert was selected in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft.

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