Civic Engagement

Masai Ujiri: Toronto Raptors vice chairman unveils Nelson Mandela inspired 'Humanity' installation

It should come as no surprise that one of the first things Masai Ujiri does in the city since becoming the newly appointed vice chairman of the Toronto Raptors is not related to basketball.

"Toronto sits as a place where you can really, really attack the world from," Ujiri said in his first press conference as the Raptors' new vice chairman and president. So whether it's the U.S. or whether it's Africa or whether it's Europe or whether it's South America, it gives me a platform, a voice to speak on a lot of issues that I think are important. Global issues that are important."

On Wednesday (Sep. 1), he was present alongside other distinguished delegates, including the Mayor of Toronto John Tory, at the unveiling ceremony of the 'Humanity' installation.

The installation, inspired by his idol Nelson Mandela, is 2.4-metres high and is made up of the 35 words that reflect what humanity means to Ujiiri.

"I wanted to put a symbol up to remind people that we should think of others and we should be kind to others all the time," Ujiri said during the unveiling outside the Union Station.

"These times, the last couple of years, have shown we all need each other as much as we can. Who we are as people, what we feel, social justice, George Floyd, everything came to my mind with this and it's time for us to really feel each other … that's what inspired this."

MORE: Ujiri discusses staying in Toronto, Siakam & Barnes

Constructed by builder Ramm Design, the installation is to stay on display until Oct. 31. It is an extension of Ujiri's Humanity Movement, which he launched last year, and one of the multiple ways that the 51-year-old executive has made his presence felt in the community outside of basketball.

"You know why I'm staying here? You know why I love it here? It's because of that: diversity, people. When I come to the games every day, I see people from everywhere," he said.

Co-founder of the Giants of Africa program in 2003, Ujiri's desire to make an impact in the community outside of basketball was a huge reason why he decide to stay in Toronto with the Raptors.

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