Rebounding from rock bottom on the basketball court


When Thandeka Thusi’s family moved, she had to start again. In order to fit in, she joined a gang, started taking drugs and missing school. As violence increased between her gang and another, Thusi’s family was placed in danger. The police were closing in. To escape, Thusi’s family moved back to their original home, but her relationship with her parents was in pieces. She had broken their trust. As Thusi thought back to what made her happy, her memories of basketball returned. She sought out her old team, and found a coach who gave her a second chance.

Thusi discovered the sport as a young girl when a basketball bounced across her path. She followed it, and saw a group of boys pick it up and begin playing. She was mesmerised. From that point, Thusi watched every practice, and the coach eventually asked her to join. Through basketball, Thusi began to learn discipline and respect. Her temper improved, and she forged better relationships with her friends and family. That was, until she fell in with gangs. But when Thusi returned to basketball, she took back control of her life.

Thusi finished high school and applied to become a coach with PeacePlayers, an international NPO using basketball to bridge communities and help young people. Her application was successful, and she has now created her own family through PeacePlayers, a Laureus Sport for Good initiative. Known as Coach TT, Thusi is able to make a difference in her community, creating the same support system that she had for others. “When you play basketball, your team becomes your family,” she says. “On the courts there’s no race, gender, or sexuality.” For Thusi, sport has not only provided her with joy, but a purpose. “Basketball is not just a game, it has the power to change your life.”