This dynamic picture book biography introduces readers of all ages to Wataru Misaka, the first non-white athlete to play in the NBA.
Wataru “Wat” Misaka, a Japanese American boy born to immigrant parents, liked to play basketball under the glow of stars and a small street lamp in Ogden, Utah. America was home to Wat, but with the onset of World War II, many people thought he didn’t belong.
“Go home!” they would shout as he dribbled the ball down the hardwood court, but Wat continued on his chosen path, winning state tournaments in high school, becoming a national champion with the University of Utah, and even serving in the U.S. Army.
The New York Knicks took notice, and in 1947, Wat became the first person of color to play in the NBA.
During a time when nearly all of America mistrusted and mistreated Japanese Americans, Wataru Misaka embodied courage and strength, pursuing the game he loved and becoming a symbol of hope for Japanese Americans sent to incarceration camps. Lost in the annals of history for too long, this remarkable story of identity, belonging, and following one’s own path is now illuminated through lyrical text and vivid illustrations.
About the authors
Hayley Diep is a writer and teacher based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the author of “If You Give a Girl a Bike.”
Naomi Giddings is a Japanese American freelance illustrator from the Washington, D.C. area. A graduate of WashU’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts (BFA ’16), she is currently based in California.