Kim Tillie: basketball player with volleyball heritage

By representing France in basketball, Kim Tillie is breaking with tradition. His father and brother are in Rio to compete in volleyball, the sport the Tillies are known for.

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French basketball player Kim Tillie's journey to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games began when he did not listen to his mother. Hailing from a volleyball family, he was drawn to basketball. "My mum wanted me to play volleyball because she was a professional volleyball player, but I stayed with basketball," Tillie said.

While Tillie, 28, will be gracing the hardwood courts at Carioca Arena 1, his brother Kevin Tillie, 27, will be across town at the Maracanãzinho playing for the France volleyball team coached by the pair's father, Laurent Tillie — himself a two-time Olympian in volleyball at the Seoul 1988 and Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games.

"It's amazing," Kim said. "I saw my brother last night. My dad was already asleep when we got in because they just arrived from France, so they had jet-lag. We’ll have plenty of time to hang out. My dad told us to enjoy it, and that it's an amazing event. Maybe our kids will go to the Olympic Games one day. That would be amazing.”

"It's in our genes. Our whole childhood we were all the time in the gym, watching games, playing volleyball, football, basketball — we played basically every sport. When I was 10 years old we moved to a different city. I had a whole bunch of new friends and all these guys were playing basketball. So I started to play basketball then. I kept playing, started to love it, and I never looked back.” 

The Tillie family is littered with high-level athletes. Kim and Kevin's mother, Caroline Keuleb-Tillie, captained the Dutch women's volleyball team, and Laurent's brother, Patrice Tillie, was a member of France's men's water polo team. Kim and Kevin are now doing what their father and uncle did 24 years ago by competing at the Olympic Games together. In addition to Kim and Kevin's Olympic journey, their youngest brother, Killian Tillie, is set to play basketball for Gonzaga University in Washington State, USA, next season.

The French men's basketball team will take on Australia in the opening game of the Rio 2016 basketball tournament on Saturday, while Kevin, Laurent and France's men's volley-ball team play Italy in their first game on Sunday.