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Duop Reath Explains his Incredible Journey to the NBA

In a video co-created by Matisse Thybulle, Portland’s 27-year-old rookie tells his inspirational and improbable story.

Sacramento Kings v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images

Here at Blazer’s Edge, we reference and spotlight countless stories appearing in the media about your Portland Trail Blazers — from trade reports to player profiles to general team news.

But I implore you, I implore you, above all the other stories out there, take the time to watch this in-depth profile on Trail Blazers’ reserve center Duop Reath and his amazing odyssey from South Sudan to the NBA.

The 28-minute video was created by Matisse Thybulle, Reath’s teammate with the Trail Blazers and Australian National Team, and Matthew Adekponya. Thybulle posted the video on his YouTube page on Saturday. It follows a simple, but captivating format, as Reath explains his life and basketball career through his own perspective.

I don’t use the term “odyssey” lightly. Before making it to the NBA this season as a 27-year-old rookie with the Trail Blazers, Reath’s life takes him from South Sudan, to the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, to Australia.

Then after picking up basketball in high school, Reath’s playing career takes him to Lee College, a junior college in Baytown, Texas; Louisiana State University; three years playing professionally in Serbia; the Australian National Team; professional leagues in Australia, China and Lebanon; three NBA Summer League stints with the Brooklyn Nets, Phoenix Suns and Trail Blazers; and finally, a two-way contract with Portland.

In the recent profile, Reath explains what life was like living in the refugee camp in Kenya.

There wasn’t that much. So you don’t really grow up with shoes. You’d have to go fetch some water from the water wells. We shared a lot of things — with your brothers, cousins, third cousins. Everything is shared over there. Nothing is really yours. So if one person has a pair of shoes, everybody has a pair of shoes. If one person has a hoodie, everybody has a hoodie. So when you think about it now and visualize what we had then, it was nothing at all. But at the same time, the camp was kind of a lifesaver for a lot of people because it gave everybody a second hope and a second chance.

Among many other subjects, Reath also discusses the challenges of immigrating to Australia and overcoming a language barrier, how he unexpectedly fell into a life of basketball after primarily playing soccer and focusing on school, and how he viewed Summer League with Portland in 2023 as likely his last shot at the NBA.

The video concludes with Reath describing the realization of accomplishing his NBA dream.

The first time I walked out there onto the court, the lights feel a little bit brighter. It’s a feeling where you feel like it doesn’t feel real. It feels like you’re living in a dream. Also, it feels like if something’s meant to be in your life, I felt like there’s a high chance it’s going to be, and I felt like that moment was something that was just meant to be. It felt like, ‘Okay, you’re in your dream right now, enjoy it. Have fun. And just show real gratitude and gratification for being there.’

In 33 games with Portland this season, including 11 starts, Reath has solidified a spot in the rotation, averaging 9.4 points and 4.0 rebounds per game while shooting 37.2% on 3-pointers as a floor-spacing big. He has also likely played himself into a standard NBA contract, whether that is offered by the Blazers or another team after this season.

After listening to Reath tell his unique and improbable story, it’ll change how you watch him play on the floor. It’ll also make you proud he’s representing the Portland Trail Blazers.

So again, go watch.