Posts about Clint Capela
[Spears] Clint Capela grew up in an environment in Switzerland feeling that racism toward him & his family was the norm & part of life. “When I got to the U.S., I saw that a Black person has a voice, and we’re all human. The way I grew up wasn’t always likе that.”
Clint Capela grew up in an environment in Switzerland feeling that racism toward him and his family was the norm and part of life.
But it was after the Atlanta Hawks center came to the United States eight years ago that he made a surprising discovery about himself as a Black man.
“My parents had to go through it [in Switzerland] because they came from Africa,” Capela told The Undefeated. “So, when I got here, I really saw that it wasn’t supposed to be like that.
“A Black person has a voice, and we’re all human. And the way that I grew up wasn’t always like that.”
For Capela, who was drafted by the Houston Rockets in 2014 when he was 20 years old, it was an unexpected journey made in a country that is nowhere near immune to racism.
But it was a journey he did not make alone. He had willing mentors in two African Americans, John Lucas – then a player development coach with the Rockets – and scout Brent “B.J.” Johnson, who died in 2020.
Capela, who was traded to the Hawks in 2020, had other moments of acceptance and belonging during his life, most notably playing in France for Elan Chalon. But it was his six years with the Rockets that left a deep impression.
Capela said when he first arrived in Houston, he made a comment about his race that didn’t sit well with the team, most notably Lucas and Johnson. But thanks to the efforts of Lucas and Johnson, Capela flourished with the Rockets and also began feeling pride in his Blackness while being in a city that is 22.6% Black or African American, according to a 2021 U.S. Census Bureau report.
“When I first came to the U.S., I remember my first interview with Houston,” Capela said. “I spoke about what is the difference between basketball here and there, and I used not-appropriate language to compare. I didn’t know it was such a big thing that was wrong. And they took me on the side and said, ‘You’re not supposed to talk like that here.’
“Racism really affected me and I really learned that when I got here in the United States. Obviously when you’re over there [Switzerland], you think that it’s normal because you don’t know better.”
Capela’s mother, Philomene, moved from her native Congo to Switzerland in 1993 and soon began dating an Angolan immigrant. Capela was born in May 1994 and his parents would break up months later, and he never was able to get to know his father.
Capela’s mother was a factory worker who was raising three boys. Looking back, Capela didn’t have a memorable childhood.
“She was working every day of the week,” Capela said. “She was just working in factories, just up and down. A lot of times it was just me and my brothers at home. Sometimes she would just leave me at a friend’s that I went to school with so his parents could bring us to school. So, obviously she was doing everything by herself. I just remember her waking me up, dressing me, dropping me off over there.
“After school, she would come after work to come get me from there. When you have one mom that does everything, you think it’s normal.”
With the use of financial aid, Capela’s mother placed him and his two brothers in a boarding school during the weekdays when he was 6 years old in Geneva. Capela said they would be with their mother on the weekends and he was enrolled for about six years.
“I just wanted to be a normal kid and live with my mom, like everybody else,” Capela said. “It was explained to me that I had to be able to take care of myself when I went there and have to be a good student and not put as much pressure on my mom.”
“I felt like I was like them, but it was just harder to connect with them, to be friends with them,” Capela said. “When the teachers asked the students to do things in pairs, I was always the last one.