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Viral Sensation Inspires Millions With His Innovative Pursuit of a Near-Impossible Dream

Through his unmatched work ethic and positive outlook, Nkwain Kennedy has attracted attention from NBA stars.

Nkwain Kennedy's basketball journey is inspiring millions of people on social media as he pursues his NBA dream.
Credit-Nkwain Kennedy Lamiress

“The distance between a dream and reality is called action.”

Thousands of miles from the nearest NBA court, Nkwain Kennedy Lamiress is getting a workout in.

Doing a high knee drill while running up and down worn-down stairs in Cameroon, and guided by nothing but a single light in his backyard, Kennedy pushes through a drill akin to a shuttle cone run.

Without modern facilities available to most NBA prospects, Kennedy uses makeshift equipment including tires, bottles, and the natural environment around him.

To his TikTok page of over 3 million followers, he posts this video with inspiring audio in the background:

“Imma say something that’s really hard to hear. You’re gonna have to let people underestimate you…Shoutout to everyone that turned their back on me, you taught me how to love myself at my lowest. I ain’t even mad ‘cuz there’s beauty in rejection.”

The video mix, which racked up nearly 500 likes within a day, is posted with hashtags like #nbadraft and #nbahighlights.

His goal is clear, and he’s letting the world know.

Through rain and heat, battered courts, and old hoops, the hopeful basketball pro has always made the time to hone his craft.

Deep in the heart of Cameroon, Nkwain holds onto his dream with unwavering dedication.

But while he may be physically far from the hardwood courts of the United States, his presence is already well-known across the pond.

With his millions of TikTok followers and 1 million more on Instagram, he’s become a global sensation over the past few years among basketball fans on social media.

Recently, Kennedy earned a new follower he thought was just in his imagination: NBA champion Stephen Curry.

“At first I thought it was a fake account. I had to cross-check it over and over and over,” Kennedy told FanSided.

Curry’s not the only big-name basketball star making an impact on Kennedy’s life. 

In 2023, Lamar Odom was so impressed with Kennedy’s highlight reels in unthinkable conditions that he personally sent him a care package consisting of basketballs, socks, and multiple pairs of brand-new sneakers.

He even made sure to write “Love the hustle” in an accompanying note. 

Beyond watching what players like Curry do to excel on the court, Kennedy is intrigued by the how.

“You may be 7-foot, but I’ll still steal something from what you do,” the 6’1” baller told FanSided.

“My main question is not how to do the exact move. I want to know what [the player] did to reach that level – so I look at who the NBA or FIBA coaches that he’s worked with are. Then I try to follow every breakdown, bit by bit on their Instagrams.”

The 23-year-old starts every day with household chores at 7 AM.

Then he makes the 25-minute trek to a nearby clay court, where he trains for three to four hours a day.  Later on, he goes over to a makeshift gym for an hour-long weight-lifting session.

Even amid his growing skillset and social media fame, his future in basketball is still unknown.

NBA players make up the top 0.00167% of all basketball players in America. On a global scale, the odds are even smaller.

“Everything I have done to this point is all on my own,” he said.

“For the people who want to become a doctor, the future is clear. You can get there. But with basketball, there’s less of an obvious future because there are no scouts coming.”

The unrest in his country doesn’t ease the uncertainty.

Since 2016, Cameroon has lost over 6,000 civilians to both government forces and separatist fighters as part of the ongoing Anglophone Crisis.

This has included numerous unlawful kiddings, abductions of innocent civilians, and raids on villages throughout the war-torn nation.

Over these past eight years, the war has left Cameroon in constant conflict, including in Kennedy’s home city of Bamenda.

In 2021, Africa News wrote that sometimes Kennedy had to abandon his training to run to safety when government forces and rebels exchanged gunfire.

“Since the beginning of the crisis in my country…I started training because I wanted my dream to come true. To give kids hope that it doesn’t matter where you come [from], you can achieve what you want.”

Despite this major obstacle that continues to inflict the Central African nation, Kennedy keeps his sights on two things: the basketball and the hoop ten feet above.

Given the destruction happening in Cameroon, Kennedy’s story goes beyond sports.

His words of inspiration apply directly to his basketball aspirations, yes, but in the bigger picture, he’s inspiring the next generation of Cameroonians.

According to the World Food Programme, over 55 percent of people in Cameroon live in poverty, while 47 percent of its people are severely impoverished.

Through his work ethic and positive outlook alone, Kennedy gives hope to many people who may rarely, if ever, see hope on the horizon. 

Just a small selection of Kennedy’s recent Instagram captions include phrases that can get anyone ready to run through a brick wall:

  • “Believe in yourself and you will be invincible.”
  • “Not everyone will understand your journey.” 
  • “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time.”
  • “It’s a full-time commitment to be the best you need to work the hardest. You rest at the end.” 
  • “Quitting is not an option. I will keep working ‘till I become better at this.”

It’s often said that ‘actions speak louder than words.’

Here’s a man who does both seamlessly.

Nkwain is right. Not everyone will understand your journey. What sets you apart is how you attack the obstacles that stand in your way.

Today, Kennedy’s passion burns brighter than ever.

“Positive thinking isn’t ignoring your problems. It’s having confidence in your ability to deal with them.”

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Written By

Muhlenberg College alum based in New York City. Bylines at Joker Mag, Elite Sports NY, and The Apple.

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