NBA Star Precious Achiuwa's Safe Haven Hoops

By Bianca Gracie | August 15, 2022

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Basketball can be a grueling sport, from trying to score record-setting points to feeling the pressure from fans and coaches alike to make it to the playoffs. Maintaining one’s peace of mind is essential for 22-year-old Precious Achiuwa (@precious), who began playing basketball in eighth grade upon moving to the Bronx, N.Y., from his family’s native Nigeria.

He later attended the University of Memphis, where he played for the Memphis Tigers, before being selected by the Miami Heat in the 2020 NBA draft. A year later, Achiuwa moved to the Toronto Raptors. With a combination of meditation and a clean diet, the athlete has found his center as he moves up the ranks of the sport.

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What do you do to keep Zen?

When I first wake up. I just lie in bed and my phone is always on ‘do not disturb.’ I just sit there with my eyes closed and with no distractions. There are parts of the day where if I’m feeling some type of way, I’ll just sit in silence to clear my mind or I just throw my headphones on.

Do you feel more focused while on the court after meditating?

I'm just calm and very relaxed. I'm naturally the type of person where I'm not too high or too low about anything. It has really helped me because in the game, especially in my pro career. I've noticed a huge difference. There are some times when things are moving really fast [on the court], but I’m able to slow things down in my mind. I think that's what meditation does. You see clearer with your eyes and are able to hear better with your ears. You’re kind of playing a game in slow motion. I’m able to process things better.

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How has your new diet helped?

I’m not 100 percent vegetarian, but I did change my diet. I cut out a lot of things that I usually would eat. Mainly sugar, fried food, and just anything that's inflammatory. I’m eating a lot of fruits and natural herbs again. I’m two months in and I feel a huge difference. I had an off day not too long ago where I was like, ‘You know what, I'm craving a bunch of snacks. I don't care, I'm eating this today.’ But then I had a game and I could just feel like I was dragging my body. I didn't feel good. My whole diet change really helped because I feel so much lighter. I still run as fast and jump as high as I would before. But just that feeling of me being more aware of my body and how it works is different.

What was your reasoning behind changing the diet?

I have a friend who is a doctor and he's always been on my case about the way I eat. I haven’t had any injuries or anything in my career, but he's always like, ‘You’re young so your body is processing this stuff a lot faster and you’re not going to notice it. But at some point, it's going to catch up to you.’ So I wanted to give it a try. The first week, I felt amazing. But it was really difficult because I got hungry a lot faster than I usually would. I stuck with it and now it’s a no-brainer.

Can you discuss the importance of self-care?

Because of what I do, I have to constantly check what’s working for my body. My body is everything. If I feel an ache somewhere, I have to pay close attention to it, no matter how small it is.

Have you convinced any of your teammates to improve their wellness practices?

We have had a couple of meditation sessions this year. It was led by one of the staff members, and we meditate in a room together either the day of a game or right before practice. They were positive experiences, seeing the guys be more aware, trying to be engaged and make themselves feel better.

Photography by: Courtesy of the Toronto Raptors