From the small French island of Martinique, off the coast of the Caribbean, comes Ronny Turiaf, a French professional basketball player who plays as a forward. Turiaf moved to Paris at the age of 15 and attended the National Institute of Physical Education. A year later, in 1999, he was picked for the French Under-18 national basketball team. Along with Tony Parker, Mickael Pietrus and Boris Diaw, Turiaf led the French side to the European championship.
Turiaf came to the United States in 2001 after being accepted at the Gonzaga University. He took the first year to get acclimatized to the style of play at the collegiate level and soon, was well on his way. For the remaining three years of college, he was named to the First Team All-West Coast Conference. At an average of 13/6 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game, Turiaf became the 4th highest all-time leading scorer and rebounder in the history of the college. He had 1,723 points and 859 rebounds that also shone through in the WCC where he had a 15.9 ppg average with 9.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game.
In 2005, Turiaf was picked in the 2005 NBA Draft as the 37th overall, by the Los Angeles Lakers. Four weeks after the draft, Lakers’ medical staff found an enlarged aortic root in Turiaf’s heart. As he moved in for surgery, the Lakers made his contract void but held the rights to his services if he became fit to play again. The team also went ahead and took the medical expenses on his behalf.
He returned to the court with the Yakama Sun Kings, a team in the Continental Basketball Association league. He played 9 games at an average of 13 ppg with 6.3 rpg. In January 2006, before time, Turiaf was back with the Lakers within just six months of the surgery. To make room for Turiaf, Laron Profit was waived off after an injury ended his season.
Turiaf started off quickly. In just his second game for the Lakers, he hit 23 points with 14 rebounds and had an 80% shooting percentage. Although he received little playing time, things would change as injuries struck the Lakers from all sides. The 2007-08 season began with Turiaf in the starting lineup alongside Lamar Odom. Turiaf was placed on the bench after an ankle injury and failed to make it back into the starting lineup until Pau Gasol also twisted his ankle in March 2008. This meant that although Turiaf filled in as a center, he got more playing time and his points per game went up to 11 with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks per game as well.