Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Curtiss Baker
'A Spontaneous Decision Took Me From Atlanta To Johannesburg'
Curtiss Baker has been able to travel the world often in his career as an acrobatic dunker for the NBA. However, the former Atlanta resident was presented with a career opportunity in Johannesburg, South Africa that he simply could not refuse.
We spoke with Curtiss via email about his transition and what life has been like for him in South Africa.
Travel Noire: What inspired you to move to Johannesburg?
Curtiss: I always had an interest in living in Johannesburg since I first visited in August of 2013. Within the first half hour, I felt the vibe of Atlanta with an L.A. landscape. It felt like home with a new look, so to speak. I just didn’t know what I would do to earn a living there that was feasible for me. Fast forward four years later to August 2017, I made another visit. During this visit, I came across an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up. It was very risky and spontaneous. I made my mind up while I was there. I returned to Atlanta and six weeks later, I had my purchased ticket and an apartment waiting for me.
TN: Can you tell us about the opportunity that led to your ultimate decision to move?
Curtiss: Yes, the opportunity for me to establish the Hoops Afrique Foundation presented itself. That’s when I decided that it’s a go! I said that I’d rather take the leap so that I can tell the story of success or failure. I’d rather take the chance than say I once had the chance to do so. We gotta live life and take chances.
I have been rebranding the company and it is now called Baker House Basketball, LLC. We will create a house of basketball athletes globally, not just within Africa. It is also a chance for me to do what I love and create growth and opportunities for the youth within it.
TN: How did you get into professional acrobatic dunking?
Curtiss: I was first introduced to acrobatic dunking by a good friend of mine in 2005. I wasn’t very confident in my skill level at the time, so I went on a hiatus for 5 years. I moved to Washington DC in 2010 and began working for the NBA team, the Washington Wizards. I’ve been a professional
TN: How has life in ‘Jo’Burg’ been so far?
Curtiss: Living life in Jo’burg so far has been an amazing experience. Learning about the culture here is exciting. The food is great, the people are wonderful with lots of hospitality. They will give you the shirt off their backs! There is a lot of love for us in Johannesburg. I have made a large network of important people since being here and the community of African-Americans and Americans is larger than you think. So, it’s not hard to make friends with more familiar people. This gives an extra feeling of being at home. It’s lovely.
TN: Can you break down the cost of living in South Africa for us?
Curtiss: South Africa is a third world country with a first world feel. The cost of living in Joburg is, in my opinion, equivalent to Atlanta in the early 2000s. My rent for a 2 bed 2 bath flat with a balcony, is R10,000 per month or $695-700 USD. It is in an upscale neighborhood and I live within walking distance or very short drive to shopping, restaurants, bars, nightlife, the park, gym, luxury car dealerships, and the casino. I usually Uber to any place outside of walking distance, if my fiancee and I don’t want to drive.
Depending on one’s lifestyle, they could have a fun life on
TN: What has been your dopest moment so far?
Curtiss: Honestly, my most memorable experience is how I met my fiancee, who is South African. But that is another story within itself. It was shortly after I arrived in Johannesburg, maybe a week or two. After we finally established a relationship over the phone, we became inseparable. We plan to marry traditionally within her tribe’s culture soon.
TN: Where can we find you on social media?
Curtiss: I’m on Instagram at Triple_t_cb.