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Former ODU great Maiga-Ba's love of basketball for children

An WNBA champion with Sacramento in 2005, Hamchetou Maiga-Ba started a foundation that combines hoops and education in her homeland of Bamako, Mali.

There's a saying that "Sometimes it's the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination". You could make a case for former Old Dominion basketball player Hamchetou Maiga-Ba. It was about 24 years ago she ventured just over 4,500 miles across the Atlantic to Norfolk and play for the then Lady Monarchs. Maiga-Ba always had a fascination with basketball, but it came with a catch. 

"I was fortunate because my parents valued education", she said from her home in Long Island, New York. "Whether I liked it or not, I didn't have a choice. For me to play basketball, I had to do well in school".

Maiga-Ba's passion blossomed into her helping lead ODU to the Elite 8 as she won the Colonial Athletic Association Player Of The Year in 2001. She would go on to be the 12th overall pick in the first round of the WNBA Draft in 2002. Maiga-Ba went on to team up with another former Old Dominion great in Ticha Penicheiro and win a title with the Monarchs in 2005.

It would lead her to forming her own foundation named after her in her homeland of Bamako, Mali. "It started with Special Olympics", she said. "When I was in college, Coach (Wendy) Larry introduced us to Special Olympics and we used to do camps with them".

The foundation has had nearly 4,000 campers in her native country and Maiga-Ba's ultimate goal is to have an academy to give children options. 

She comes from a family of 21 sisters and brothers, but has gained an additional sisterhood with former ODU players. "I've found another family".

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