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Skal Labissiere Reflects on Overcoming Adversity, Tragedy

Jason Quick of The Athletic learns about the catastrophe that Labissiere lived through at just 13 years old.

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Not much was known about Skal Labissiere when the Portland Trail Blazers acquired him at the NBA Trade Deadline in exchange for Caleb Swanigan. His Twitter handle, @OneBigHaitian, gives a little insight into Labissiere’s background. But as Jason Quick of The Athletic ($) found out, there’s much more to Labissiere.

Labissiere was 13 when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit his native Haiti in 2010; living through that had a massive impact on the forward:

Turns out, the most devastating day of his life was also his most opportunistic.

“A lot of people died in that event, which is awful, but for me, God used that experience to open doors for me,” Labissiere said.

His father researched and contacted Reach Your Dream, a nonprofit organization that promotes “spiritual awareness, self-confidence and innovative thinking.” Hamilton, through Reach Your Dream, flew out to Haiti to meet Labissiere.

“I was just trying to help a kid by providing an opportunity,” Hamilton said. “I had no idea he would end up being in the NBA.”

Eight months after the earthquake, and a month before he would start eighth grade, Labissiere — all 6-foot-7, 154 pounds of him — moved to Memphis and in with the Hamiltons.

While playing time has been little for Labissiere to this point, he’s just happy to be where he is:

“Things like this? Playing time? Yeah, it’s frustrating at times, but I’m good,” Labissiere said. “After what I’ve been through, believe me, I’m good. God got me to this point, and I still have a ways to go. I’m excited about what’s ahead here.”

You can learn more about Labissiere from Quick’s article (subscription to The Athletic required).