Aiming High

Malick Diallo shares his story from Mali to Utah


A new face has entered the halls of Juan Diego that goes unnoticeable, especially because he stands at 6’8”. Freshman Malick Diallo traveled 6,313 miles from Bamako, Mali to Salt Lake City, Utah to pursue his passion for basketball. He played on the best team in Mali, known as the A.S. Real De Bamako, he brought his determination and courage to Juan Diego. He is grateful for being able to transfer here and develop his basketball potential. Despite the language barrier, climate change, and hardships, Malick continues to keep his head in the game and focus on school. 

Malick began playing basketball in October 2017 on a club called Djoliba AC.

Malick (#23) with his basketball team.

A month and a half later he changed to play on AS Real De Bamako which was considered the best of Mali’s clubs. Mali hosts international basketball competitions where they choose national selections. Malick had a chance of being chosen which would have impacted his basketball career in Mali. “Mali is not in the conditions to develop your potential in basketball, while here in the U.S you have everything you need to develop your potential and actual competition,” Diallo says. 

After Malick moved to the U.S, he not only left behind his family, relatives, and friends but lost one of his biggest guides and motivation.“I lost my father who was my guide for all my difficulties in life. He gave me all kinds of advice so that one day I would be better.” Malick finished. His father was a large influence when he began playing basketball and guided him to be a better athlete. “Leaving my relatives, family, and friends was extremely difficult to give up and leave behind when I moved,” Diallo says. 

The move to Utah took some getting used to, not only in playing basketball but going to school. When he first transferred to Juan Diego, he struggled the most with the language barrier because he fluently speaks French and is still working on his English. “The language has little effect on me on basketball because there are several players who speak French that help me a lot. English is harder to understand during school.” He finished. 

Malick and his friends hanging out back home in Mali.

Despite the challenges and getting used to a completely different environment, Diallo doesn’t fail to bring a smile to everyone’s face. He continues to learn more English with the help of his teacher Ms. Killpack. Malick is very grateful for all of the help that the administration has given him, as well as his coaches and friends.