Wat Misaka

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, every school day The Cardinal will feature a prominent and historical Asian American or Pacific Islander, living or dead, who has worked toward change, advancement, and/or world peace. Some of them are heroes, and some are unsung heroes, who deserve recognition, and have made a contribution to society.


Jasmin Gallegos, Staff Writer

Wat Misaka was born on December 21, 1923, in Ogden, Utah. His parents are Tatsuyo and Fusaichi Misaka and he is the oldest of three boys. He did not grow up with money. His dad owned a barber shop and his family lived in the basement of the shop. Maskia described his childhood as being filled with racism and prejudice. He was not allowed to play sports with the white kids and was told to play with “his kind.” He was refused service and recalls his neighbors giving him disapproving glances. Despite the racism he experienced, Misaka loved playing basketball and his high school team was able to win championships and regionals.

Misaka graduated and moved on to Weber College while WWII was still going on, where he played basketball and again moved on to win championships. Misaka then moved on to the University of Utah and continued playing basketball. While still in college he was drafted to fight in WWII.  He was such a strong soldier and eventually got promoted to staff sergeant. Once he finished his term he returned to the University of Utah and rejoined the team.

In the 1947 BAA (now the NBA) draft Misaka was chosen by the New York Knicks. He became the first non-white and the first Asian to play in the NBA as a 5’7 point guard. Misaka said that “nobody cared” when he was chosen although he was not close with his team, although he said he didn’t feel discriminated against. Misaka was cut midway through the season. Eventually, he quit basketball, returned to college, and got a degree in engineering. Later on, he got married and had two kids. Kat Misaka passed away on November 20, 2019.  He was 95 years old. He will always be remembered as an amazing basketball player and the one who broke the NBA color barrier.