Tired of having his older cousin kick his butt daily on the basketball court, Titus Channer gave up his passion for soccer to focus on improving his hoops skills.
The dedication paid dividends as he went on to be a star performer at McMaster University, where he was inducted into their Hall of Fame seven years ago. The point guard also represented Canada at the 2002 world championship and the world university games five years earlier.
The recipient of an Aroni Award, Channer said that representing Canada was a huge honour and accomplishment.
“Not everyone gets that opportunity to wear the Team Canada jersey and play against the best in the world,” said Titus, who was born and raised in Hamilton. “It, however, takes hard work and focus to get to that stage.”
Channer’s national teammates included two-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Player of the Year Steve Nash, who retired last March after 19 years in the league.
“Steve was my mentor and he was always willing to impart his knowledge,” said Channer. “To play with him and learn from him was a great honour. He’s amazing.”
The Ontario University Rookie of the Year in 1993, Channer left McMaster as the school’s all-time leading scorer. In his final two seasons, he was McMaster’s and Ontario’s Player of the Year, a First Team University All-Canadian and the 1998 Canadian University Basketball Player of the Year and the Canadian University Athlete of the Year.
After seven seasons playing professional basketball in Europe, Channer returned home to teach young people basketball and life skills. He started New Horizon Basketball Academy to inspire young people to live their dreams and reach for the stars.
“I had certain mentors in my life that taught me the difference between right and wrong and sport provided me with an avenue to stay out of trouble,” he said. “This is what I am trying to instill in the young people I teach.”
Channer, the son of Jamaican and Cree parents, is also the director of basketball development with Rising Stars which offer camps, clinics, workshops, private lessons, and training programs for young people regardless of age, gender, skill level, athletic abilities and goals.