LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Salimatou Kourouma’s path to starring at Little Rock has taken her all around the world and up from poverty in West Africa.

“I have not been home in five years as I’ve been here in the United States playing basketball,” Sali told FOX16’s Nick Walters.

A native of the village Kati in her home country Mali, Kourouma’s first season in Division 1 women’s basketball saw her burst onto the scene as the Trojans’ leading scorer and rank third among Sun Belt players in scoring average.

She didn’t think herself as much of a shooter until UALR head coach Joe Foley told her in their first practice together that she could be. Now Kourouma shoots for a bigger goal as she helps her family rebuild their home that was destroyed by a severe storm in 2019.

“One day I was talking to my mom,” Kourouma explains as she remembers a phone call before the 2021 season. “And she was like, oh, I forgot to tell you that the house has broken down. I didn’t tell you so you could focus on basketball.”

With the help of Little Rock teammates, Kourouma has recently launched a GoFundMe page to let her parents rebuild the place she has called home her entire life.

“I cannot forget about it because it’s like my house has broken down too,” Kourouma said. “I told them I’d do everything I can to help them.”

Having moved from Mali as a teenager, Kourouma tore her ACL in her final high school game, thus losing interest from bigger schools. Before coming to Arkansas to fulfill her D1 aspirations, Kourouma had played in Arizona, Kansas, and Texas. Her debut season as a Trojan was coincided with stress knowing her parents had been homeless and unable to afford reconstruction.

“I have brothers and sisters but I was the only one traveling trying to follow my dream,” Kourouma said. “It was really hard playing basketball, focusing on school, and focusing on the house that that they lost.”

This week Kourouma finally went back home so she could renew her student visa. She was reunited with family and friends, witnessing first-hand the dilapidated structure she used to call home. By the time she returns in the future, Sali hopes to find that her fundraising effort paid off.

“If I get the chance to get this done it would mean a lot to me,” Kourouma said. “My parents did everything when I was a kid to make me happy. So now I want to make them happy.”

Watch Nick’s story to find out how the Little Rock star’s career has unfolded worldwide since her humble beginnings in Mali. She has two years left of eligibility to continue leaving her mark as Little Rock moves to the Ohio Valley Conference.

You can help Kourouma raise money for her family by donating through her GoFundMe page by going to Read more about Sali’s story and her mission to help family here.