DENVER (CBS4) – Nuggets No. 1 draft pick Emmanuel Mudiay has only been in Denver for a few days but says he already loves the Mile High City. The story of his journey to the NBA is amazing, and he recounted it on Xfinity Monday Live with CBS4’s Vic Lombardi.

When Mudiay was only a year old his father passed away in the Congo in Africa and his mother sought political asylum in the United States. She was in America for a little more than a year before Mudiay and his brothers were able to join her.

The family resided in Texas and Mudiay began playing basketball in middle school. He became very talented and played high school ball for Grace Preparatory Academy in Arlington.

After high school Mudiay committed to play for South Methodist University but then opted to skip college and play professionally in China. He signed a $1.2 million contract to play for the Guangdong Southern Tigers. He said he made the decision to play in China because he wanted money to help out his mom.

Emmanuel Mudiay talks with CBS4's Vic Lombardi on Xfinity Monday Live (credit: CBS)

Emmanuel Mudiay talks with CBS4’s Vic Lombardi on Xfinity Monday Live (credit: CBS)

“That’s the reason I went to China in the first place … she raised all three of us by herself, so that’s the main reason why I wanted to do it,” Mudiay said. “She’s the backbone of our family. Everything she says or does we pay close attention to. So she is our hero.

“We make sure everything goes through her. She has taken care of us our whole lives and now it is our turn to take care of her.”

CBS4 caught up with Mudiay’s mother, Therese Kabeya, who had some great things to say about her son.

“I came here for them to go to school. The first idea was for the safety first because it was bad back home, so I decided to come here where they can go to school — to have education,” Kabeya said. “I never thought about this to happen. This was God’s plan, not my plan.”

Emmanuel Mudiay's mother, Therese Kabeya (credit: CBS)

Emmanuel Mudiay’s mother, Therese Kabeya (credit: CBS)

Mudiay said his mother will still live in Dallas but also live part time in Denver.

“She will go back and forth. I mean, Dallas is home, but this is a new home too, so she will go back and forth. We are on the road so much,” he said.

Mudiay has two older brothers, Jean-Micheal and Stephane, who he says helped mold him.

“Growing up, it wasn’t easy; they used to beat me up. We had this apartment where we stayed at, it’s called ‘The Cage’ that we used to play two-on-two and one-on-one, whoever was available to play two-on-two. But they always just used to beat me up and not let me win, and that is what made me (who I am) today. I watch both of them play basketball at a young age … I was six years old, growing up, I watched both of them — and that is who I wanted to play like and that is who I feel like I play like two-on-one.”

Now that he’s made it to the NBA Mudiay is going to be a wealthy celebrity, but he says he can handle all that comes with that.

“Just stay focused, you know, don’t forget where you come from. That’s the main thing. I’ve had some fame since I’ve been in high school … I’m a chill guy. I don’t go out that much, I don’t party … you won’t see me out there unless you see me probably on the court or something like that.”

That’s good news for the Nuggets who have seen their fair share of players get into trouble.

– By Matthew J. Buettner, CBSDenver.com

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