Tracing his roots back to 112th and Lenox, the impact Mo’s environment has had on his work ethic is clear. Driven and determined – Mo was always focused on a greater goal. Greater than New York. Greater than basketball.
Spending long days playing hoop on the famous Kingdome courts against grown men, Mo began to develop the toughness and defensive edge that would become his calling card. He got pushed around by the older players, but said “I was always back the next day”.
Mo wanted to be tested in other ways as well. Jumping at the academic opportunity, Mo spent 8th and 9th grade attending Cardigan Mountain, a boarding school in rural New Hampshire.
When it was time to pick a high school to attend, Mo opted to stay in the boarding school environment at Westtown School in West Chester, PA, surrounding himself with classmates from 20 different states and 20 countries. Here he refined his considerable physical abilities into basketball skills, and as his game developed, so did his horizons.
“My classmates were the sons of doctors and lawyers and CEOs. I was blown away every time I met their parents. I’d ask weird questions you normally wouldn’t think to ask. You’re around that success so much that you want to be like that. You want that success for yourself.”
Mo’s attended the University of Texas, where his engaging, contagious personality was embraced by the students and broader fan base.
“The obsession they had with Mo was completely unrelated to basketball,” said Head Coach Shaka Smart. “The effect he had on those people was unbelievable.”
But Mo knows his dominance as a basketball player is the engine that will ultimately drive his future business endeavors. So he’s invested in his basketball above all else. And it’s paying off. As a freshman at the University of Texas, Mo set the single-season blocks record for the Longhorns – with 5 games left in the season.
Mo has never been content with what is in front of him. His goals are as lofty as his standing 9’6″ reach. In 2017, he traveled to China to volunteer and learn more about a different culture. His time there was a revelation. He spent mornings shoveling coal into 70 pound bags which he delivered to villagers to provide a fuel source for heating, afternoons hosting student assemblies at several schools in Beijing and Shanghai, and evenings meeting with current and former executives at the NBA China league office.
FROM CHILE TO CHINA, MO’S IMPACT AND ENGAGEMENT HAS ALREADY BEEN FELT AROUND THE GLOBE, PREPARING HIM FOR HIS ROLE AS A GLOBAL BASKETBALL AMBASSADOR
New York Times: Harlem Made Mo Bamba, but He Will Take It From Here
The Ringer: The Making of Mo Bamba
The Athletic: How Mo Bamba Took Control
Bleacher Report: The Next Big Thing In Basketball
The Player’s Tribune: College Announcement