How Nav Bhatia, the Superfan, changed my perspective on life

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Imagine surviving deadly riots and migrating to a progressive country for a better life. Now imagine starting from zero and applying to numerous jobs only being turned down simply because you look different from others. Now visualize yourself being called a “towel head” because of your turban. Pause, and think for a second, how it must feel coming to a new country of your dreams with fifty dollars in your pocket and not being able to find a suitable job because of blatant racism. Let’s fast forward a few years and picture going through all these challenges yet still making it big.

This is the story of an immigrant who broke barriers and made it to the top despite all the past traumas. This is the success story of Nav Bhatia, who we all know as “Superfan.”

Before meeting Nav Bhatia in person, I knew him as the “Super Fan” for the Toronto Raptors and the only non-NBA player to receive the expensive NBA championship ring with 640 diamonds. When Rinku Ghei invited me to attend an invite-only movie premiere showcasing Nav Bhatia’s journey, I was beyond ecstatic. I was super excited to meet the most recognized non-player at any Raptors game. Many community leaders attended this Red-Carpet movie premiere. Many thoughts crossed my mind while eagerly awaiting Nav Bhatia’s arrival. I wondered how Nav would be as a person. After all, fame does change people. Nav arrived on time, and we all walked to take our seats to watch his life journey through his documentary “The Superfan.” From the very first scene to the last, it was a rollercoaster ride of emotions. I learnt so much from this documentary. It empowered me to do more as a youth. The message in this documentary taught me that no matter how many obstacles may come in your way, one must not give up.

Nav Bhatia moved to Toronto, Canada, amid the anti-Sikh riots in India as he searched for a better life and a safe future for his family. With only a few dollars to his name and an engineering degree on his resume, Nav struggled to find a job because of his “long beard and turban.” Many people told him to cut his hair to blend in with this new environment as that would increase his chances of getting a job. But Nav wasn’t willing to give up on his faith in exchange of an easy journey. He had promised his mother that he would never drink or smoke, and he would always keep his turban.

Due to his determined and warrior mindset, Nav quickly climbed the ladder of success. His journey is truly inspirational. Nav had started his first job as a car salesman and quickly set a record of selling 197 cars in his first 90 days of getting hired. A record that still holds to this day. Nav eventually bought the two car dealerships he worked at previously.

After the documentary ended, Nav addressed the attendees and gripped everyone with his “straight from the heart“ talk. He shared numerous real-life experiences of facing racism but always kept his head high. The beauty of his message is that everyone can relate to it. He has a certain charisma that makes him a likeable personality. He changed my perspective on many things that day. I always believed in countering negativity with a harsh response, but Nav’s message, “When they go low, you go high,” resonated with me. This powerful line means if someone wants to disrespect you, find a way to respectfully find a solution instead of stooping down to their level. Nav believes in educating others about his faith rather than engaging in negative social media interactions with those who pass racist remarks.

Nav is not just a Superfan anymore; he symbolizes determination, perseverance, and love. The ring that was such an attraction for me also represents an immigrant success story. When asked about the ring, Nav said, “It’s not about the expensive diamonds or the wow factor; it’s my life’s work symbolized in this ring.”

Nav is so humble that he let thousands of fans wear and take photos with the NBA Championship ring. He wants every young mind to know that no dream is too big to achieve. He also says that this ring belongs to the fans, not just him.

Overall, it was an amazing experience to meet Nav Bhatia in person, and what surprised me the most was that despite his huge success and following, he is as humble as you can imagine. He didn’t let the success change him. As they say, “nothing fails like success if you forget who you are.” Through his Superfan Foundation, Nav is heavily involved in running charity programs in India and worldwide.

Nav Bhatia represents much more than basketball. He represents faith, diversity, and inclusion. Mr. Bhatia has helped countless people irrespective of their cultural background and made his vision to bring communities together through basketball. It’s not about the money, the nice house, or the fancy NBA and Hall of Fame ring he owns. It’s about learning and understanding what he preaches and the morals he lives by every day. Nav Bhatia is truly a remarkable man we can all learn from.

I hope every young kid watches the “Superfan – The Nav Bhatia Story” documentary made by Rinku Ghei of Yellow Mango Films.

By:14-year-old
Imroz Khosa

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