As president and vice-chairman of the Toronto Raptors, Masai Ujiri has led the team through its most successful period in franchise history, including an NBA Championship. In June 2019, the Raptors won their first NBA title with a six-game victory over Golden State. Ujiri has also led the team to five Atlantic Division titles, their first appearance in the Eastern Conference finals, and to a record number of wins in a single season.
Ujiri began his NBA career on the ground as a scout, searching for talent all over the globe. He was named general manager of the Denver Nuggets in 2011 — becoming the first African-born GM in pro sports — and won the Executive of the Year award in 2013. Ujiri served as director of global scouting and assistant general manager to the Raptors before taking the role as president in 2013. He added the role of vice-chairman to his responsibilities in 2021.
While he is proud to be the first African team president in North American sports, Ujiri has said that he would consider it a failure if he was the last: “Being first is good, but I don’t want to be the only one. There have to be more.” His belief in equity and diversity is reflected in his organization: he has committed to hiring women and recently created the position of vice-president of organizational inclusion and diversity.
In 2003, Ujiri founded Giants of Africa, which uses sport as a tool to enrich the lives of African youth and create opportunities for them on and off the court. Ujiri’s ethos is to “dream big” and today his organization connects with youth — both boys and girls — in more than 17 African countries and territories. The organization’s 15th anniversary saw Ujiri joined by former US President Barack Obama to open the Giants of Africa court at the Sauti Kuu Foundation Sports, Resource, and Vocational Training Centre in Alego, Kenya.
In addition, Ujiri has served as director of the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Africa program since 2002. He has travelled with the Prime Minister as part of the Canadian delegation to the 2019 African Union meetings, been named Toronto’s most influential person, and currently serves on the advisory board of the Dallaire Institute for Children, Peace and Security, an organization focused on eradicating the use of child soldiers. In 2020, Ujiri launched That’s Humanity inspired by his experience and lessons learned from some of the world’s greatest leaders, including Nelson Mandela.