Jaylin Williams of the Oklahoma City Thunder is the first basketball player of Vietnamese descent to make an active NBA roster.
Throughout the preseason, Williams flashed his skills on the glass as one of the team’s most effective rebounders, even notching a double-double against Maccabi Ra’anana with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Last Wednesday, Williams made his NBA debut in the Thunder’s season opener against the Minnesota Timberwolves, logging four points, two assists and six rebounds in eight minutes of play.
In an interview with AMAZN HQ, Williams says when he began to gain traction on social media during the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Tournament earlier this year, he began to realize that the impact of his performance extends beyond the hardwood.
“Being able to be that icon and be that role model means so much to me” Williams says. “It means more than basketball. It means more than what I’m doing it for.”
Williams also had some words of inspiration for young aspiring ballers who look up to him.
“Always bet on yourself; Run your own race,” Williams says. “Everyone has their own story, everyone has their own journey, you just got to live yours”
Fellow Vietnamese basketball player Johnny Juzang is also taking his talents to the league, splitting his time between the Utah Jazz and their G-league affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars, on a two-way contract.