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From washing dishes to the NBA: The unlikely rise of Saint Lucia-born Raptors’ star Chris Boucher

By Peter Mendelsohn ·

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Boucher celebrates with students after winning a game with the Oregon Ducks in February 2017. (Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

This CBC article was originally published on December 12, 2018

The future didn’t look very bright for 19-year-old Chris Boucher. He was earning less than $10 an hour as a part-time cook and dishwasher at a St-Hubert restaurant in Montreal. He had dropped out of high school when he was 16.

Everyone around him seemed to have more going on in their lives than he did.

“I was not going to school. The only thing I was doing was working, but if I wasn’t working that day, I really had nothing to do,” said Boucher.

He was good at basketball despite the fact he’d only started playing the sport a year earlier. But he only played in city parks and recreational centres and his father, Jean-Guy, didn’t see a purpose in his son spending time playing basketball.

Despite this, Boucher filled out an email form on the QC United team website in March 2012, listing his height at 6-foot-8.

‘It must be a lie’

Igor Rwigema set up Alma Academy in 2012, partnering up with QC United Sports Club to create the first-ever French basketball academy in North America. He didn’t put much stock in the authenticity of Boucher’s email.

“I felt like I knew all the kids that were 6-foot-6 and up in the city,” said Rwigema. “So when I saw 6-foot-8 I thought … it must be a lie.”

In the summer of 2012, Chris Boucher agreed to play in a basketball tournament in Montreal. It was a decision that would change the course of his life. (Jonathan Hayward/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

According to Igor’s brother, Loic, players often fabricated their height on registration forms.

“We’ve always gotten emails from kids saying ‘I’m 6-foot-4’ and then we see the kid, he’s 5-foot-11,” said Loic. “So when Igor got the email that the kid’s 6-foot-8, we didn’t take it seriously.”

Boucher never got a response.

In early July, Boucher’s friends told him about an upcoming basketball tournament that required a team fee in order to participate.

“I said, ‘I don’t have money like that, but if you all want me on the team, I’ll go,'” said Boucher.

Fortunately, he played.

The discovery of CJ Slick

Loic was in the crowd at the Little Burgundy Sports Centre the day Boucher played. He was trying to recruit kids to come to his private high school, College Durocher Saint-Lambert.

He was supposed to go home after the game he was watching had finished. There was no reason to stay for the men’s game that was to come. The players were too old to for him to recruit.

But still, the impending matchup intrigued him.

On one side of the court was Brookwood Elite, one of the premiere basketball programs in Quebec. The other team looked a tad different.

“It was like 10 boys playing against an organized team. I thought, ‘This is going to be interesting’, because they didn’t have a coach. I was intrigued to see how it was going to play out,” said Loic.

As expected, Brookwood Elite blew out the rag tag team of players from Montreal North.

But Loic noticed Boucher.

“There was a tall, lanky athletic kid,” said Loic. “He didn’t quit even though they were down 40 points.”

Loic gave his brother Igor a call. “I think I found someone special,” he said. “A gem. This kid is not normal.”

After the game, Loic approached one of Boucher’s teammates on the bench to find out the name of this hidden talent.

“His name’s Chris,” said Boucher’s teammate. “He used to be called CJ Slick. Go find him on Facebook. His Facebook is CJ Slick.”

Boucher said that CJ stood for “Chris Joseph.” He’d given himself the name “Slick” because he felt no one would ever notice him when he was out in public.

“I was always under the radar,” said Boucher.

After getting his contact information, Loic told his brother to go see Boucher play the following morning at 8 a.m. Igor didn’t want to wake up that early, but begrudgingly, he headed to the gym.

Igor called Loic to corroborate his brother’s hunch.

“Yeah, he’s something else,” said Igor, referring to the 6-foot-8 talent who, as it turned out, did exist.

‘Do you really think he has a chance?’

Igor contacted Boucher, a.k.a. CJ Slick, on Facebook to let him know about Alma Academy.

“When he came to my house, that’s when everything started,” said Boucher. “I thought, ‘Ok he’s serious. He’s taking the time to come to my house, talk to my dad.”

Jean-Guy was surprised someone was actually recruiting his son, and it wasn’t very difficult to convince him.

“I think it took like five minutes for him [Jean-Guy] to say, ‘You know what, if you think you can do something with my son, then just take him.’ I didn’t really have to convince him,” said Igor.

Path to the NBA

Playing on an organized team for the first time in his life, Boucher quickly thrived.

After a year at Alma Academy, he was recruited to the United States where he spent a year apiece at New Mexico Junior College and Northwest College. He then spent two years at the University of Oregon.

In March 2017, Boucher tore his ACL. As a result, he wasn’t selected in the NBA draft that summer.

Undrafted, he spent last season on a two-way contract with the Golden State Warriors. He was released by the Warriors in June of this year, and signed another two-way contract with the Toronto Raptors in October.

Since then, he’s been dominating the G League with the Raptors 905, averaging 28.2 points and 11.8 rebounds per game as of Dec. 12.

Last Monday, he was named G League Player of the Week.

Return to Montreal

Back in October, the Raptors played a pre-season game against the Brooklyn Nets in Montreal.

With just over seven minutes to play in the fourth quarter and the Raptors holding a 29-point lead, Boucher checked into the game.

“That was the day that I really realized that I had support. Obviously I knew that people were following me, I just didn’t know how much,” said Boucher.

Once upon a time, nobody in Montreal knew who he was. Now, more than 20,000 people at the Bell Centre were chanting his name.

CJ Slick certainly wasn’t under the radar anymore.

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This article was posted in its entirety as received by stlucianewsonline.com. This media house does not correct any spelling or grammatical error within press releases and commentaries. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of stlucianewsonline.com, its sponsors or advertisers.

13 comments

  1. what ike jones told them?
    Back then they didnt want me, now am hot they all on me

    (2)(1)
  2. How does a Lucian look like? He was born in St Lucia and he has every right as you as a St Lucian. He is putting St Lucia on the world map. What have you done for your community and not to talk of the country as a whole? Learn to appreciate people. He can easily naturalize to Canada or US and those countries will take the credit. Happy Sunday to you.

    (2)(1)
  3. He is saint lucian I remembered watching him couple years ago playing college basketball for Oregon state,and all I kept saying why was his last name being pronounced wrong,the game announcer, gave a short piece, on his place of birth, bravo young man,shows his determination to succeed, something, our youth today is lacking.keep balling.

    (7)(2)
  4. 06/15/2019
    I Proclaim on the rooftop that the “King is coming to redeem the earth of its curse.”! I announce to the ends of the earth, that the “King is coming”. And that the days of Noah are here. “Prepare ye the way of the Lord and make straight his paths.” Tell all the world that I am coming back soon. “I am coming for those who have laid their burdens down”. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
    The father says: Accidents and disasters will take place when those I have assigned refuse to do my will. I will hold you accountable. I gave you dominion over the world you live in, but you are not taking dominion. You neglect it as you run out to play. Because of this, many will not be where they are assigned to be when events come and shall be destroyed. The enemy is calling you out to play, I am calling you to work, but you are following the piper, who calls play time. Because you have attuned yourself to hear the enemy and not me, you will be in the wrong place. Because you have not kept you post, the covering I have assigned will be lacking and many who should not be taken yet, will be taken. I will hold you accountable for this; my body should work like a well-oiled machine, but when my children disobey, this is not so.
    As more play, others are distracted and stop working. My children, do you still not recognize the enemy’s hand at work in your lives? Do you still not understand the value of the work I have called you to? A soldier must not leave his post, as one soldier can allow an entire Army to be breached. Watch and pray; prepare yourselves for a crescendo of chaos as you approach the end of the merciful ones being removed from the earth, so the enemy will have greater access to your world, and it shall be clear. Those left behind have less empathy and evil will increase exponentially at that time. Multiple events will happen at once showing you this is true. At the time of the evil crescendo, my children should band together as you will need each other, more than before when this happens. Your enemy is planning to release new evils at that time. There will be changes in physical resources then as well.
    Think about these things, my children. I tell you now that you may remember then my words of what is coming. Prepare; prepare well for it comes soon. Events coming to the world after the coming home of the merciful ones will shock even unbelievers, my children. Some of them will even cry out to me when these things happen, most, however, will not. I will continue allowing events and sending events to see their need for me as time move to the end. Your world has before now, mostly been a beautiful place. As time moves towards the end of all things, you will see less beauty and far eviler. You will see horrors you could never have imagined. Many will be stunned into permanent silence by what they see. So great will be their terror.
    * These are exclusively the words of –Yahuwah and his son Yahushua Mashiach.
    God the Father, the Great King wants his name to be promoted in the four corners of the earth. Repent now; get baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, those of you who are in the valley of decision. Do not procrastinate any longer but go ahead and choose God, for when the door and the books are closed no one will be able to enter in. God is sending warnings after warnings. We are in the End Times and he does not want ANYONE to Perish. Time is running out, get saved now while you have time. He is the only way to salvation. Amend your ways and you will be allowed to remain in the land. Let those who have ears to hear and those who have eyes to see. Repent now! Remain strong, be bold, courageous and steadfast in your faith.
    The Lord is saying that: there are people in the churches, in the pulpits, the choir, the church boards, (church in general), who claim to know him but do not have a personal relationship with him, his spirit does not dwell in their hearts and they need to learn how to build a relationship with him, so he can dwell in their hearts. Repent now, pray without ceasing, read his word daily and speak to him as your best friend or father. Do not hesitate to do this as his judgments have already begun. The end of everything has begun.
    Credit to Brother Shomrim, may God bless and protect you my, brother.
    - God’s messenger.

    (4)(6)
  5. a lot of these people SNO spotlighting here dont look Lucian to me. i wonder where they get them?
    anyone passing off as lucian these days? and yes, we caribbean people do have a look for the most part. many of those faces just look very strange; like where they come from, really??? this guy looks like an african who decided to pass for lucian for one reason or another....i mean kudos to him for his acheivements...but still ...

    (7)(29)
    • oye u retarded mun?

      (4)(2)
    • Shut your ass hater

      (2)(6)
    • I know what you mean. He doesn't have that typical St.Lucian look. I heard his dad is Haitian and mum St.Lucian. He was born in Castries, so he is a Lucian. Well done to him as you said

      (6)(1)
    • Hater if you want to know if there is a Saint Lucian playing for the Raptors, all you have to do is get on the internet do research on the team and it’s players and you you will find the relevant information...

      You just making your self ignorant and foolish, and quite frankly jealous that there is a Saint Lucian playing on the team, and yes we are of African decent DUHH... #stopbeingahater

      (11)(7)
    • Some people really take immense pride in displaying their stupidity and ignorance for the world to see.

      Pal, next time don't classify yourself as Caribbean; ..."we caribbean people do have a look for the most part", with your ignorant statement, you can't identify yourself as a Caribbean person. Go back and take a history class.

      Or may you can't read since books are not written in donkey language.

      (6)(4)
    • Don't be a hater...

      (2)(3)
    • Thought we were all African descendants making up the Caribbean. We were given a WHITE GOD in a pic and led to believe many WHITE stories that now control our every existence.

      For a minute brother hail up another brother and lets be part of the "WORLD OF THINGS".

      (2)(0)
  6. The man you see today is not the man you'll likely see tomorrow.
    Islanders are small but Tallawah, let us all come together and be the force to reckon with.
    Congrats my brother.

    (36)(1)

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