The legacy of Mady Sissoko with Michigan State basketball

Wisconsin v Michigan State
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Mady Sissoko will leave a curious legacy with the Michigan State basketball program. He's like the son we all never had: want nothing but the best for him, saw the unlimited potential in him, frustrated the heck out of us, but at the end of the day, we couldn't stay mad at him. Sure, scoring 12 points a game and grabbing 10 rebounds would have made us all happy, but four years of underachievement on the court will be far outweighed by the achievement he has reached off the court.

For those of you who don't know, Mady Sissoko was born in Mali, a country in northwestern Africa. I swear, I'm not making this next part up: He was discovered by an eye institute administrator, Mike Clayton, who facilitated free cataract surgery for people in Mady's village. Mady's brother was part of their security personnel when he told the group about how freakishly athletic Sissoko was. The administrator was friends with a prep school basketball coach and agreed to bring him to the United States to play basketball. Clayton agreed to become Mady's legal guardian and brought him to Utah to learn basketball at the age of 15.

About 99 percent of college basketball players are already prepping to play college basketball at that age while Mady was starting from scratch. For the first 15 years of his life, he never touched a basketball, but his hands were calloused from working the fields in his village. The same village that is benefitting from his journey thanks to weird Visa/NIL rules. You can watch the CBS special here.

It's easy to see an athlete like Mady and automatically think that the fundamentals of basketball should come easy to him. But the players around him got a 10-year head start on dribbling, passing, catching, shooting, and general basketball IQ. Even those who started in middle school got concepts of organization and set plays and learned from mistakes early on. Mady had to learn from those mistakes at such a high level, that he could have easily hit the portal earlier in his career. But he stuck with MSU becuase MSU stuck with him.

Yes, on the court, he was in over his head at times, but the Izzone, students, players, coaches, and alumni fell in love with the human and that's what will be the lasting impression Mady Sissoko will leave with us.

More importantly, the kids in Mali with a school, clean water, and other life essential resources.

As Mady closes the small chapter of his life with Michigan State basketball and opens a new one with a new school, it's a great opportunity to share his story with others and hopefully inspire them along the way. He alone was not the reason the 2023-24 Spartans fell short of expectations, and while we wish his legacy on the court was greater than the outer space performances against Gonzaga and Kentucky, even a national championship would pale in comparison to what Sissoko has already accomplished with his life's journey.

Thank you, Mady. And best of luck in your future endeavors. You will always have a place in Spartans' hearts.