We don’t always have our dreams come true, but for one little boy—who was, to be honest, not that little—the world opened up a host of experiences that fed his goals. Now, as a grown man, all he wants to do is give back to young people around the world. Kibwe Kambui Khary Trim (yes, a mouthful) is a pleasure to talk to. He just has so much to share about his life. He was born in Trinidad and grew up in a modest lifestyle here.
The St. Mary’s College boy started playing basketball when he entered secondary school, and quickly made the Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19 teams, eventually representing the country in the U-19 age group at a Caribbean tournament in Guyana at age 15. There, he was judged the most improved player on the team.At 17 he went off to Seton Hall University in New Jersey to play basketball with a Trini all-star team. After winning only one out of three or four games, they were knocked out of the tournament.
In spite of this defeat, Kibwe was spotted by one of the many scouts there. Who could miss him, standing at 6 feet 10 inches, with athletic prowess to outshine any champion? By the end of the tournament he had about 15 different schools courting him and offering scholarships. Eventually, he chose to play at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, on a full athletic scholarship. As they say, the rest is history.
During his freshman year, Trim was recognized by Sports Illustrated as the best NBA prospect coming out of the Northeast Conference. He spent 5 years at Sacred Heart and by his senior year he led the conference in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage. He made the First Team Academic, All-American (5 people in the nation are selected for the first team, excelling both academically and athletically) and First Team All-Conference player, which made him one of the best basketball players for the entire conference. During those five years, he also completed his bachelor’s degree in computer science and graduated magna cum laude with a master’s degree in information technology at the age of 22.
This amazing player did not have it easy all the way; in fact, one might say it was surprising the results he achieved, given the challenges he faced. As a sophomore in college, after playing his freshman year and being ranked as the #1 NBA prospect in the league, he fell, and started having excruciating back pains, which limited his playing. “Some days I could barely get out of bed, and it was painful to even walk,” he says.
Trim saw over a dozen doctors, who could not figure out what the problem was. It was upsetting that in his second season in college he wasn’t able to play and spent the whole year trying to figure out how to relieve the pain. He feared his career was going to end prematurely. “Eventually, the pains subsided as easily as they came, and I was able to get back on the court the following year to resume my college basketball. It was such a mystery to everyone,” he reflects.
He didn’t let that hurdle keep him back and his achievements didn’t stop. He turned pro after college and was invited to participate in an NBA Summer League with the Los Angeles Clippers. While he had other NBA workouts with the Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets among others, and did summer league and minicamp as a rookie, he never signed an official NBA contract. He explains, “I went on instead to play ten years as a professional in numerous different countries, including France, Venezuela, Romania, Japan, Taiwan, Lebanon and Korea.”
“As a pro, my best and most memorable year was the 2013/14 season, when I won my only professional championship with The Okinawa Kings of the Japanese BJ League,” says Trim. “We set league records that year, recording the most consecutive wins ever and the highest number of regular season wins ever in a season. It was a fun season, in which we lost few games, and it culminated in us winning the championship trophy. It was an unimaginable feeling and an experience that cannot be justified with words. It was a season and an accomplishment that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
At 29, in addition to all his achievements, this athlete had begun following his philanthropic aspirations. He started a charity called the DreamChaser International Foundation in 2013. “The aim was at that point, just to give back to young people in any way, form or capacity that I could. But it evolved into a definite mission statement of providing tutoring, mentoring and financial aid to young people across the globe in underprivileged communities,” says Trim.
When he retired, he started putting more effort into fulfilling this dream of having a positive impact on the lives of other young people. He realized that, were it not for a few key people in his life, his story could have been quite a different one. He has since supported thousands of young people across the globe, including in some of the countries he played in, and over the past two years has been in Trinidad, holding training sessions and workshops on personal development and the sport.
Soon after, he hung up his uniform. “I became tired of playing,” he says. “Tired mentally and physically, and I decided that at age 31 I was ready to give it all up, so I retired in 2015. I was no longer having fun playing the game and it had become more of a chore. There is no way to perform at a high level consistently as a professional if you are not in it 100 percent, and it was clear to me that I had lost that edge. It was time to move on and experience life in a different lane.”
In 2017, Kibwe Trim wrote a book about his life called From Nerd to Pro, encouraging people to be disciplined, dedicated and determined in chasing their dreams and desires and not letting anyone take advantage of them. In just two months he sold 600 copies internationally. He recalls being bullied at school for being so tall, introverted yet sporty all at the same time, but says that basketball gave him an identity and the self-confidence and ability to believe in himself. “This is what I want: to help young people achieve via my DreamChaser foundation and my book.”