Ryan Turell, the first Orthodox Jewish NBA player
'For all the young men and women of his faith, seeing Ryan perform on the court is inspiring'
Ryan Turell, a 23-year-old Orthodox Jew from California, made his professional debut on Tuesday with the Detroit Motor City Cruise NBA minor league basketball team.
The six-foot-seven player who wore a blue yarmulke bearing his team's logo received a standing ovation during the last three minutes of the game.
"For all the young men and women of his faith, seeing Ryan perform on the court is inspiring. ‘If he can do it, why can't I?’ they must say to themselves", commented the announcer of the game during a timeout.
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Turell signed up for the NBA draft – the selection by professional teams of college players – after being voted top scorer in the third division of collegiate basketball in the United States at Yeshiva University, which had won 50 consecutive games.
He wasn’t drafted by any NBA team, but in October the Cruises drafted him 27th overall in the G-league.
Turell said he was warmly welcomed by his new team who agreed to do everything possible to adapt to his religious observance.
During the first game of the season on Friday evening, he stayed not far from the game’s arena to be able to get there on foot. The club also provided him with four kosher meals and a hot plate, in addition to arranging an after-Shabbat return for him alone.
He told ESPN in March that if picked by an NBA club, he would walk to games and practices scheduled for Shabbat and remain an observant Jew.
"Becoming the first Orthodox Jew in the NBA would be the greatest happiness and a dream come true, God willing," he said.