No one can say that Michael Linklater had an easy or obvious path to basketball stardom.
At barely five feet 10 inches in socks and shoes, height was one problem. But the constant racism Linklater faced posed an even bigger threat to his career. The Saskatoon, Thunder Bay and Thunderchild First Nations phenom developed his own mental jiu-jitsu to cope with ignorant encounters. He turned every slur or slight into another burning log on his personal fire of ambition and effort.
Linklater tells Player’s Own Voice podcast host Anastasia Bucsis that the low expectations of others provided more than enough fuel to fire blazing work ethic. Linklater was on the Canadian national team, ranked among the very top tier of 3×3 players worldwide and retired with the 2019 CEBL championship as a member of the Saskatchewan Rattlers.
Now, Linklater is pouring his energy back into helping Indigenous youth. He’s the founder of Boys with Braids, a senior coach for the North American Indigenous Games and the director of Prime Basketball Development, which gives Indigenous kids everywhere the coaching and mentorship that can make all the difference.
Like the CBC Sports’ Player’s Own Voice essay series, POV podcast lets athletes speak to Canadians about issues from a personal perspective. To listen to the entire third season, subscribe for free on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn or wherever you get your other podcasts.