July 5 (UPI) -- Before signing a $65 million deal with the Toronto Raptors, Serge Ibaka spoke out against prejudices and stereotypes placed on Africans.
Ibaka agreed to his three-year contract with the franchise Sunday. On Monday he tweeted a powerful statement.
The three-time All-Defensive team selection is entering his ninth season. The 27-year-old was born in Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo. He was the No. 24 overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.
"I am proud of where I come from and of my heritage. I am also very proud of the hard work I put to arrive to where I am right now as a basketball player," Ibaka tweeted.
"I am very disappointed with the small part of society that spreads rumors and creates news based on stereotypes and without any proof. I'm sad that to this day there are still prejudices based on your origin and, as Africans, sometimes we need to take a stand.
"I was born in the capital of the Republic of Congo, Brazzaville. A city with a population bigger than 1 million. A city with hospitals, a civil registry and an administration. I was born in a caring, loving and united family. I was not born in the jungle.
"I know we live in a fast news world, where rumors and scoops rule, but I think media should take their responsibility seriously when talking about important matters that can hurt people. I know who I am and were I come from, and so do the people that really know me.
"I'm sad that many people will have read a rumor and will have made a false assumption that can last forever, while they maybe will not read what I'm writing now. What's sure is that, no matter what, nobody can take away from me the pride for my origins and the love that I have for basketball."
The response stemmed from a report that some NBA teams told ESPN they believe Ibaka is older than his listed age.
Ibaka posted 14.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game last season for the Orlando Magic and Raptors. He spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was traded to the Magic in 2016 and traded to the Raptors in February.