By Sulayman Bah
He surely never will get to don the Gambia colours sports-wise but Dennis Schröder will go down in history as the richest Gambian ever to take up sports in the 21st century.
Born-to a Gambian mother, the 23-year-old would have qualified to play for the West African nation but on account the Smiling Coast is hardly a basketball hotbed, Schröder chose to opt for his birthplace Germany whom he represented from youth to national team level.
Regarded the best Basketball star to emerge from Germany, the point-guard grew up skateboarding before finding solace in Basketball at age eleven. Brought up in a strict traditional family and a practicing muslim, Dennis’s rise to the fore came as no surprise.
Beginning with hometown teams Phanthoms Braunschweig and SUM Baskets Braunschweig, a second-tier side , Schröder joined Atlanta Hawks via the draft becoming the first ever Gambian to play in the NBA leading his team to 112-98 wins on 18 points, 6 assists and 2 rebounds in the first season.
Picked up as a developing talent, the 6ft 1 in was part of the Hawks’ roster in the Summer League but got loaned in the NBA D-League and a recall from the Hawks did not come until 2013’s end. The following campaign the Hawks, impressed by the German-Gambian’s sudden strides, tied him down to a revised contract.
Dubbed ‘The Magician out there’, Dennis repaid the side’s faith in him by raking up 22 points in 1-5-102-win in the clash against the Dallas Mavericks –his biggest career feat that season. The same year, he appeared for the German U-20s before debuting for the senior team against Finland in 2014.
A major part of the Hawks’ now, Schroder on Wednesday got signed to a new four-year deal. Meaning the sensation will be taking home a whopping $70 million making him effectively the highest paid athlete of Gambian descent in the 21st century.
As recent as this week, he met up with Brazil legend Ronaldinho who happened to be around to watch Atlanta Hawks in a recent contest.