CANES BASKETBALL LEGEND AND CURRENT MAYOR OF DANIA BEACH TAMARA JAMES DISCUSSES HER DECISION TO COME TO UM, HER RECORD-SETTING CAREER, HOW HER PRO CAREER LED HER OVERSEAS AND HOW HER BASKETBALL BACKGROUND HAS HELPED HER NAVIGATE HER NEW ROLE AS A PUBLIC SERVANT ON THE BEHIND THE U PODCAST

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Fast Breaks: Kenny Kadji

Nov. 5, 2011

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – They are stories of perseverance. Stories about growing up, becoming men and being a part of a family. One-by-one, we hear from them. These are the Miami Hurricanes…

Kenny Kadji | Forward | Junior | Douala, Cameroon

My family is my number one fan. They always come to the games. They always talk to me when I’m down or if I need advice or something like that. So yeah, number one fans. They live pretty much everywhere: Cameroon, France, Tampa and now West Palm Beach. My mom is here staying in West Palm, and my dad comes back and forth.
Playing basketball has given me an opportunity to travel everywhere. I’ve been to France, Russia, L.A, and all over America. I feel like I’ve been on vacation my whole life just traveling everywhere.
I came to the United States from Cameroon after stopping in France first. We came here for a vacation and we actually met Alonzo Mourning on the street in Coconut Grove. I was about 13 years old when I met Alonzo. I was so scared. He was so tall and big. It was funny. He was like “This kid has got to play basketball”. So my parents started thinking about it and when we went back home, they put me in a camp in France and I guess the coach liked me. So they were like “All right you have to stay”. I went to school there for a year. I went to Russia for a tournament and I did pretty good. There were high school and college scouts and they said I should come to America and play.
The U is a family too. A family away from home. The students, everyone. Everywhere you go you hear about the U. Everybody wants to be a part of this and I’m happy that I am.
I like to play video games and people don’t know but I like to read books. I like science fiction, action, Sherlock Holmes books. Intriguing stuff. I like NBA2K12 right now. Still trying to figure it out.
When I was introduced to Coach L I was surprised. He has a lot of energy. I didn’t know what to expect when he came here. The guy knows what he is talking about, and he really wants everyone to get better every single day.
The hardest part of being away from home is home food. Especially coming from overseas, the culture is different. I miss my mom’s food even though I get it once a week. It’s just different. We eat like frog legs. They don’t have it here, or I haven’t found it yet. I like pasta, chicken carbonara, stuff like that.
I was raised in Africa for half my life, France for another half, and then here. I was raised to be the best kid, the most polite. I have three brothers, all here in Miami. One goes to school here. My littlest brother is going to school in Broward, playing basketball. He’s pretty good too.
When I played basketball growing up I pretended to be Magic Johnson. Even though I’m pretty tall, I always liked to handle the ball and give nice passes. I like Magic.
I’ll never forget the first time I met Alonzo Mourning. That’s really what pushed me to play basketball. He came to me, shook my hand, and said “This kid has to play basketball. He’s going to be pretty good”. After that, I never stopped watching him. He’s just a great player. I’ll never forget that. What did he see in me? I think it was my hands. I had the biggest hands for a 13-year-old. So it was like “he has to play basketball. He’s going to be tall.” And he was right. I don’t even know if he remembers it. We were just walking around. It was here at the Grove. I got a picture and an autograph. I still have those in a little book in West Palm.
As soon as I came to Florida, I knew I was coming to Miami. Just knowing that the Heat were here, a city with basketball players. I knew I was coming here.
I’m a Hurricane because the family, the atmosphere, just the city of Miami. The students here take a lot of pride in the school and the basketball team. Even though sometimes we have bad seasons and good seasons, they’re always here. So that’s something I like about the students, they really take pride in the U.
Some of my personal goals are to play professional and just help this team and play well this year for the team.
At the University I’ve learned so much from Coach L. Everything from being a basketball player to taking care of business off the court and how to approach stuff. Just growing up as a man.
Once thing everyone should know about UM hoops is we are going to be tough minded. We’re going to play hard. It’s going to be different on defense. We’re going to run, it’s going to be fun for people. They’re going to see a lot of running, layups, dunks, it’s going to be fun.
I never thought I would be here. Like I said, basketball took me a lot of places and I would have never thought I would be here
Competition is great. I love it. You have to be competitive in life. From video games to who finishes a meal first, I love competition with anybody.
If I could play against any team, it would be Kentucky because they have a great team and great hype. You always want to play the best. I would have said North Carolina but we’re playing them.
I secretly wish that I could dance. I can’t. I tried to many times. I got the video and I think I can dance, but I can’t. Sometimes, I try to have Malcolm help me, but he moves too fast for me. I tried to Dougie, I tried moonwalking, it’s too hard. I’m good with the two steps, but after that I don’t really do anything.
Cameroon is a great country. It’s my home country, I love it. When I was there, there were really no worries. You know everybody because the country and city is so small. I just love it. The whole city knew me. I was one of the tallest kids. We were always outside with our friends, too, so everyone knew. My parents are from Cameroon. My mom grew up in France. My dad was born in France but raised in Cameroon. I was born in France too, but we’re all Cameroonian.