Asia, Basketball & Race, NBA, Washington Wizards

What is Rui Hachimura’s race? Is 八村塁 biracial or part Asian?

Rui Hachimura is a player for the Washington Wizards having been drafted by the franchise at #9 in the 2019 NBA Draft. Not only does Rui Hachimura have the uncommon combination of size and skills, athleticism and shooting, to have been drafted in the exclusive NBA lottery, the 6-8 forward’s personal background may be even more unique and impressive. 

Hachimura was born in Japan on February 8th 1988, his home town being that of the Toyama Prefecture and grew up in Sendai, Japan. Though he was born in Japan, he isn’t fully Japanese in terms of his bloodline, as you can probably tell, Hachimura is mixed race with one half being Japanese and his other half being Beninese. 

The Family: Rui Hachimura Parents

With a mixed background, the next question that tends to come up is what sides represent which side and how they met. Rui’s mother Makiko (麻紀子) is Japanese and was born and raised in Japan while his father Zakari Jabil hails from the small West African country of Benin

According to Wikipedia, his first name, Rui (塁), means “base” or “fortress” in Japanese. His first name was inspired by baseball because his grandfather was a big fan of the sport. Rui Hachimura has two siblings, all younger, one brother Allen (阿蓮) who also plays basketball, and younger sister Amina.

Being drafted into the NBA was obviously a really huge personal achievement for Hachimura and his family, but it’s bigger than that. Not only was it a fantastic milestone of his basketball career, but this is a point of price for his home country of Japan as well.

Growing Up Biracial in Japan

In the past few decades, basketball has been one of the most popular sports in Japan, both for playing and watching. There are even many basketball betting sites available to the locals as well. Hachimura has certainly contributed to consolidate such popularity in the country.

It was a somewhat tough upbringing for Hachimura growing up in Japan looking as he did. He was quoted by Bleacher Report, about when he was in high school, he was looked at quite differently  “They looked at me like a fucking animal or something. It was part of the reason I wanted to come to the U.S. Everybody is different. I thought it would be good for me.” 

This was back in his homeland, where the biracial status was used by others to discriminate against him. Still, Hachimura is clearly proud of his split heritage and wants to inspire future biracial athletes in his home country, and it is commendable that he keeps his family life private, something I am sure we can all appreciate. 

The Most Promising Japanese NBA Player

Once he puts on his Washington Wizards jersey and steps onto the court, he’ll become just the third Japanese-born player to play in the NBA. Last season, Yuta Watanabe became the first Japanese player to join the NBA in nearly 15 years. Before that, it was Yuta Tabuse as the first Japanese born player in the NBA. Tabuse played four games for the Suns in 2004  but was waived just three months after joining the franchise. Even with Platinum Play, I would not have wagered that Japan would have nearly as many NBA players as their much larger neighbor China.

Despite the struggles that may come with his biracial identity, Hachimura seems to have found his home in the United States.  He is a young star with loads of potential, so he if he continues to improve, gets the right opportunities, he’ll have a long and bright future ahead of him in the NBA. His star has risen quite high so far.

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