Wat Takes His Shot: The Life & Legacy of Basketball Hero Wataru Misaka

By Cheryl Kim
Illustrated by Nat Iwata

Hardcover: forthcoming


Available 06.18.2024

The stirring biography of Japanese American basketball star Wataru Misaka--the first person of color to play in the NBA!

As a kid, Wataru Misaka channeled his endless energy into playing sports. Every Sunday, he raced to the park where his Japanese American community came together to play basketball. Wat wasn't the tallest on the team, but he was fast and loved the game! Encouraged by his father to always do his best, Wat applied this mentality to every aspect and challenge in his life.

Wat was a college student when the US government forced more than 122,000 Japanese Americans living on the West Coast into incarceration camps during WWII. He overcame racism and segregation to join his college's basketball team but despite Wat's impressive skills, he was treated as an outsider because he was Japanese American. Wat kept his eye on the ball, and his team-player mentality made him shine on and off the court. He became an inspiration to his Japanese American community. After helping Utah University's basketball team win the national championship in 1947, Wat was drafted by the New York Knicks, making him the first person of color to play in the NBA.

Wat's motivational story of rising to any challenge and bringing your best to everything you do is a reminder of the power we each have to inspire others--if we just take our shot!

Read Cheryl's essay "Becoming the Student" on TeachingBooks' For Teachers, By Teachers Blog.

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About the Creators

Thumb_cheryl_kim_author_photo_nice_bowers_photography_copy Cheryl Kim - Author

Cheryl Kim is an elementary school teacher from San Jose, California, and teaches second grade at an international school in Thailand. She received the SCBWI Kate Dopirak Craft and Community Award for her original manuscript for Wat Takes His Shot. When she's not teaching or writing, she enjoys watching professional basketball with her husband and sons. Visit her online at

Thumb_nat_iwata_headshot Nat Iwata

Nat Iwata has worked as an art director, 3D artist, illustrator, professor, and animator on everything from video games to children's books. His debut picture book, Sumo Joe, was called "a refreshing new take on the martial arts genre" by Kirkus Reviews. Like Wat, Nat is also Japanese American, about 5' 7" tall, but lousy at basketball. He lives in Washington state with his wife and three boys, all of whom serve as an endless source of encouragement and inspiration. You can visit him online at