Jamaal Magloire, the Toronto Raptors' first Canadian player, says playing for his hometown is the fulfillment of a dream he's had for a long time.
"It's very important for me," Magloire said Friday. "You know, I want to leave some kind of legacy behind."
The 33-year-old, who reportedly reached contract terms with the Raptors Wednesday, already has a legacy off the court.
He grew up in a poor Scarborough neighbourhood and, in 2001, his half-brother Justin was killed near Sherbourne subway station, in a crime that is still unsolved.
At the time, he was an NBA rookie playing for the Charlotte Hornets, but he came home and started a basketball program for kids from low-income families.
Tamark Wright-Doswell, 19, joined the program when he was 12, living with his grandmother on little money.
'It made a change in my life'
"It made a change in my life, being in this program," said Wright-Doswell, who now goes to college and plays for the varsity basketball team. "Because if I'd never been in this program, I would be [on] a different path. It's changed my personality, how I act, how I talk to people, and stuff like that."
The program is one of several local programs and charities Magloire has helped get off the ground.
Reports indicate Magloire agreed to a one-year deal worth slightly more than $1 million US.
Magloire, a 6-foot-11 Toronto native, has played 11 seasons in the NBA, averaging 7.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 22.1 minutes in 646 regular-season games with Charlotte/New Orleans, Milwaukee, Portland, New Jersey, Dallas and Miami.
He has averaged 7.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 19.8 minutes in 46 playoff games.
Magloire will provide relief off the bench for Toronto's frontcourt trio of Andrea Bargnani, Ed Davis and Amir Johnson and, the team hopes, provide some strong character in the dressing room.
He is the first Canadian in the team's 16-year history.
"There's only 450 guys in this league," he said. " Not only am I part of it, I get the opportunity to come home. I'm very happy."