Inspired by strong family support, Toumani Camara makes waves in NBA Summer League with Phoenix Suns

(Video by Andrew Lind/Cronkite News)

LAS VEGAS – Toumani Camara is already proving he belongs in the rotation of the championship-hopeful Phoenix Suns with the support of his family in Las Vegas.

Camara’s mother, Anne Le Docte, and older brother, Tidiane Camara, were among the family members in attendance for Monday’s NBA Summer League game. The enthusiastic support group stood out from the crowd with cheers rang during the starting lineup introductions at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

“(Having my family here) means the world to me,” Toumani said. “Like I said, they’ve been a part of my journey, they’ve been going through a lot like I’ve been going through a lot … so being able to have them in the stands and watch me play especially in this environment and with an NBA jersey on, it means the world to me and to them for sure.”

After a strong debut at NBA Summer League, where he racked up a team-high 20 points and 8 rebounds Saturday against the Milwaukee Bucks, Toumani’s family saw him Monday against the Miami Heat. He finished with 11 points, 3 assists, and 3 rebounds in the Suns’ 73-70 win.

“For me, (to) watch my brother play (in the) NBA is very amazing,” Tidiane said. “It’s a dream for all kids in Belgium (who play) basketball to go to the draft.”

Born and raised in Brussels, Belgium, Toumani moved to Florida at the age of 16 to pursue a basketball career in the states. A tough move across the globe for a family-oriented guy raised mostly by a single mother, it was a necessary decision to make for him to pursue his full basketball potential to build a career he always had dreamed of.

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The sacrifice of seven years away from his family ended in the maximum reward when he became the Suns’ only draft pick – selected No. 52 overall at Barclays Center – and officially signed his first NBA contract July 3.

“There (were) a lot of sacrifices he made,” Le Docte said. “Me, his brother and him, because we were always together until he was 16 and after that he came to the United States.”

Only seeing her son play a handful of times throughout his life, aiming for one game a year, Le Docte couldn’t be any more amazed at the beginning of his journey. Her words of wisdom – “always work hard” – have not fallen short for Toumani. Seeing him laced up and sporting an orange and purple Suns jersey with his name on his back, she is starting to understand the weight of his achievements.

“(It’s) amazing,” Le Docte said. “I realize when I see him with (his jersey) of the Suns. It’s amazing, it’s a dream.”

The oldest of the two brothers, Tidiane started playing basketball when Toumani was about six and helped introduce him to the sport. The two found ways around the time difference between the two countries in order to watch NBA games. Toumani took an early liking to Dwayne Wade on the Miami Heat while his brother rooted for a different team.

“My favorite team was the Houston Rockets, now it’s Phoenix,” Tidiane said with a laugh.

His family aren’t the only ones who carry high praise for the rookie. Suns coach Frank Vogel made an appearance at Monday’s game to support his summer league players and has taken notice of Toumani’s character.

“He’s been doing great … he’s got his family in to support him,” Vogel said. “We had a few dinners, he and I together in Phoenix to just get to know each other and learn more about each other. He’s got a great personality, he’s very smart and he’s hitting the ground running.”

The Suns will return to action Tuesday against the New Orleans Pelicans at 5 p.m. at the Cox Pavilion at UNLV.

Taylyn Hadley tay-linn had-lee (she/her/hers)
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Taylyn Hadley expects to graduate after the summer term with a master’s degree in sports journalism. During her time in undergrad at Portland State University, she double majored in criminal justice and psychology.

Andrew Lind an-droo lind (he/him/his)
Sports Broadcast Producer, Phoenix

Andrew Lind expects to graduate in August 2023 with a master’s in sports journalism. Lind graduated from the University of Kansas in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.