At 6’9”, Will Njoku views life from an uncommon perspective. This perspective was formed not only by his height, but by his experiences. Carried from Africa to Canada at the age of four, this gentle giant experienced more adversity by the age of nineteen than many do in a lifetime. There was adjusting to a new culture, witnessing chronic illness in his siblings, growing up under strict parenting, and suffering the death of family members. But sometime during all of this, he had a life changing moment:
“One day when I was twelve years old, I was walking my newspaper route and saw an article about a man who had represented Canada at the 1984 Olympics. In his photo he looked extremely happy to have finished in tenth place. I was so inspired by his enthusiasm that I immediately began scrapbooking the Olympics Games and made going to the Olympics my goal”. – Will Njoku
The rewards from the pursuit of his dream included competing in three World Basketball Championships and a career as a professional athlete, playing for teams all over the world and for Canada’s National Men’s Basketball team. In 1994, Will was drafted into the NBA.
Unfortunately Will’s Olympic dream didn’t come true. Team Canada failed to qualify for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. When they did qualify for the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, Will was recovering from an injury.
One could look at Will Njoku’s tall, lean frame and think, “Wow! It must have been easy for a guy that size to have the Will2Win!” Not so! The giants that Will faced on the basketball court were ants compared to those he battled every single day in the game of life.
At the age twenty-nine Will was diagnosed with acute anxiety and depression and learned that he had been suffering from it since the age of six. So, how did Will unknowingly live with mental illness yet become the only athlete in history to attend high school and university in Canada and be drafted by the National Basketball Association (NBA)? The answer is his will to win. Will chose to turn the upsets and challenges of his life into setups for victory.
Will understands the scoreboard of life has nothing to do with winning. Winners are those who resist and persist. Winners bounce back. We are all born with a will; to maintain it, we must be well. When we have wellness, we can be more resilient, stronger and have more stamina.
“My perspective on adversity determines all of my outcomes. It changes the way I evaluate winning and losing. I see adversity as an ally that, if nothing else, makes my emotional armour more resilient” Will Njoku
For 25 years Will has been a coach and mentor to youth, teaching them to “Set your feet. Aim high. Follow through. Every day.” Now, through Will2Win, S.A.F.E. is the spark Will uses to ignite the will to win in others through inspirational speaking. As a result, Will has become an inspiration to thousands both in the competitive and non-competitive arenas of life. His journey is a testament of how adversity can be an advantage when one views it with the right perspective. It’s this perspective that garnered his successes both on and off the basketball court.
Will volunteers as a spokesman for the Canadian Blood Services OneMatch Program, The Sickle Cell Disease Association of Canada and the Atlantic Cancer research institute.
He resides in Moncton with wife Monica, son Jackson and twin sons Jediah and Jarvis.