Samford guard Richardson Maitre describes his long journey from Haiti to Birmingham
Richardson Maitre’s journey has taken him around the western hemisphere — from Haiti, to Canada and to the United States. After a season with an Iowa community college and two years with Florida Atlantic University, Maitre has now found his home in Homewood, Alabama.
Richardson Maitre was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where his dad was a banker and his mother was a nurse. He lived there with his family until he was a toddler when his parents made a huge decision that would change his life forever. They realized that living in Haiti would limit their sons’ opportunities in life. The Maitre family then packed up and moved nearly 1,900 miles to Ontario, Canada.
This tough transition was made easier by the presence of family already living in Ontario. In addition to their immediate family, Maitre had aunts and cousins there as well. Having his family there, especially older cousins who also spoke Hatian-Creole, was huge for his transition to Canada.
Maitre’s older cousins also heavily impacted his attitude toward athletics and competing in sports. Maitre’s first sport, however, was not basketball — he was initially a soccer player. Watching as his brother and cousins played basketball was what urged him to enter the sport himself.
Maitre quickly noticed the joy of basketball and the community that was being built with the kids who played together. He began playing with them and coaches quickly noticed his natural talent. AAU Coaches Junior Audate, Nelson Osse and Henry Wong carry the credit of developing Maitre into the player he is today. They saw his potential and coached him through AAU basketball, which was being slowly developed in Canada at the time.
AAU was where his talent flourished and where he became the player he is.
“We would travel in minivans and come across the border just to come play in the United States,” Maitre said. “The furthest was a two day trip we took to Orlando, Florida, to play.”
He explained that this exposure so early in his career was what earned him scholarships to colleges in the United States.
The summer before his sophomore year, West Oaks Academy in Orlando offered Maitre a chance to move once again — this time to the sunny beaches of Florida. He took the opportunity and won two state titles in his three years with the team.
West Oaks head coach Kenny Gillion and his family took Maitre under their wing and helped him get where he wanted to be. Despite receiving multiple Division I offers during his senior year, Maitre had to start at junior college due to some of his Canadian course credits not transferring over.
His next destination would be Indian Hills Community College in Iowa for two years. After his first year, things seemed to come to a halt as he broke his foot and was unable to play his sophomore season. Maitre was concerned that his injury was coming at a crucial time for getting recruited to play for Division I programs.
Luckily, he had long-time Indian Hills coach Hank Plona to guide and mentor him during this dark time.
“I was really depressed thinking I wasn’t going to get any offers, and my coach Plona took me in like a son, and he helped me through that time,” he said.
Maitre received a scholarship to play for Florida Atlantic University, which he gratefully accepted. He played there for two years, playing in every single game for both seasons.
That’s when former Samford assistant coach Gerald Gillion entered the scene. Gillion is the brother of Maitre’s high school coach, and was hired by Samford in 2020. Gillion then recruited Maitre to Samford, hearing so much about his drive, character and skill from his brother in Orlando.
While he was being recruited during the COVID-19 season, he had many conversations with McMillian over the phone and on FaceTime. He was fascinated by Samford and what McMillan’s new tenure had to offer.
“When we talked,” Maitre explained, “we talked about life. Bucky gave me the bigger picture, and we talked about how this could help me achieve things so much bigger than basketball. It’s so much more than basketball.”
Maitre went on to explain how McMillan played a role in his decision.
“Bucky is a young coach, so we could relate on so many things and certain domains. That is why I wanted to come here — that relationship between me and coach Bucky,” he said.
Maitre describes his past year at Samford as a special experience. His teammates quickly accepted him, and their off-the-court chemistry has been exceptional. His teammates Grayson Walters, Angel Smith, Marcellus Vail, and Logan Dye, to name a few, have taken him on some Alabama adventures, such as lake trips.
“If my time at Samford were to end right now, I would look back fondly because of the people I have been able to surround myself with,” he said.
Only three weeks back from another foot injury, Maitre is ready for this season of Bucky-ball with his teammates. He made an appearance in the Samford opener against Maryville last week, scoring five points and an assist. His experience and athleticism could easily transcend into a standout season for Maitre, the kid from Port Au Prince, Haiti.