Masai Ujiri

Masai Ujiri

President and Vice-Chairman, Toronto Raptors | Founder, Giants of Africa

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.


Leadership

Masai Ujiri is one of the most influential leaders in the NBA, leading the Toronto Raptors to their most successful period in franchise history, including an NBA Championship — the first in their franchise history, and the only team outside the United States to do so. At the same time, his Giants of Africa Foundation has led talented African Players to compete at the highest levels in basketball. Today, Ujiri speaks about how he applies his leadership skills to win on and off the court, lift up those around him, and develop the next generation of leaders.

Philanthropy

Masai Ujiri has dedicated much of his life to empowering youth in Africa. He founded Giants of Africa in 2003 with the mission of using basketball as a tool to enrich the lives of African youth globally and create opportunities for them to realize their potential. Since its creation, the organization has traversed more than 17 African countries and territories conducting camps, building courts, and facilitating youth outreach. Ujiri has also served as director of the NBA’s Basketball without Borders program. He speaks throughout the globe on his philanthropic values and desire to better the lives of others.

Social Justice

Masai Ujiri is an active voice in the social justice movement and has always been a strong advocate for equality. His very public experience with racism during the 2019 NBA Championships sparked national and international headlines and led to the “That’s Humanity” movement — a platform to continue the conversation on social justice and what it means to be a human being. Ujiri now speaks passionately about the fight for equality and how we can work together to build a future without discrimination.

Building Strong Business Cultures

Masai Ujiri has a proven ability to build strong business cultures. As president and vice-chairman of the Toronto Raptors and founder of the Giants of Africa Foundation, he is known for fostering greatness within organizations, and isn’t afraid to take risks.

In his talks, Ujiri uses his own story and journey to highlight how to build strong and sustainable business cultures, and brings attention to the importance of equity and inclusion.

Women's Empowerment

Women’s empowerment is very close to Masai Ujiri’s heart. He believes that when women win, we all win. Ujiri uses his many personal experiences, such as growing the Toronto Raptors staff from one woman in 2013 to 15 strong female leaders and impacting hundreds of young women through Giants of Africa, to show how to provide equal opportunity and champion women.