In a world with billions of people, there rarely comes a story that is worthy enough to be told to everyone. Such is the inspirational story of Satnam, short for Satnam Singh Bhamara. Hailing from Ballo Ke, a village in the Barnala district of Punjab, Satnam was born into a family of farmers. Being the son of the tallest man of the village, Satnam grew taller than most adults in the village at the mere age of 10.
At the same time, his father was then urged to enroll him in the Ludhiana Basketball Academy (LBA), a school designed to develop the talent of kids between the ages 14 to 18 years. Considering an extraordinary height of 5 feet 9 inches, local sports authorities suggested him to join football as well. At the LBA, he was taught his first basketball drills and skills by Dr. Sankaran Subramanian, Punjab basketball coach for Punjab and director of the Sports Authority of India. At 13, he was 6' feet 11 inches tall, weighed 230 lb and wore shoes of size 18.
In June 2010, Singh led the Punjab State Youth Team to a national championship, which led to BFI choosing him to play at NBA Basketball Without Borders in Singapore. The BFI head coach recommended him for the IMGR scholarship but at the age of 14, he was too old for that. Troy Justice, the director of Basket Operation for NBA in India (then) also visited Punjab and discovered Singh. Justice said "First time I saw him play, he was wearing shoes that were falling apart. The seams had split, and he was coming right out of them. That's all he had. He was growing so fast. We helped him get shoes. I've heard people talk, but we're not sure they know how big he'll get." He believed that he could be the chosen one for the basketball to represent India.
In 2015, he was again declared ineligible for an academic scholarship, this time to play at NCAA. But there was a silver lining after all. He was declared for the 2015 NBA draft. At the age of 19 and standing at a height of 7 feet 2 inches, he became the first Indian-born player to be drafted by NBA. He was the first player to be drafted directly from high school as a postgraduate, as the league instituted age restrictions.
After facing difficulties to find a shoe of his size, how a young village lad from India faced peculiar difficulties went to USA to improve bhis sport without having any knowledge of English language and then contending for the most sought-after NBA pick and achieving the same in the second pick, Satnam Singh's story inspires in more ways than one. Although he is just 21 years old, his journey from Ballo Ke to NBA has been documented by Roman Gackowski, the winner of the New York Emmy award, into a documentary called One in a Billion.
Have a look at the trailer of a story that is one in a billion, as one of the world's richest man Mark Cuban puts it. The documentary has been released exclusively on Netflix.