Gary Forbes Biography

Claim to Fame: NBA Small forward (Toronto Raptors)
DOB: February 25, 1985
Diabetes Type: 1

Praised for his overall athleticism, adaptability, and natural leadership on and off the court, expectations for Gary Forbes are extreme, even overwhelming. However, coach Travis Ford stated in a 2007 interview with, “He could be one of the best players in the league… Gary is another young man who has a great personality, which leads to him being a leader on this basketball team. " With such potential and support, it is little wonder Forbes has been able to achieve so much success.

Born in Coln, Panama, Forbes moved to the United States as a child. Settling with his mother in Brooklyn, New York, his talent for sports, basketball in particular, became apparent at an early age. He attended Benjamin Banneker Academy in Brooklyn where he played on the basketball team, scoring a total of 1,512 points and 766 rebounds over the course of his high school career. He was named Newsday Player of the Year in Brooklyn, nominated City Player of the Year, named both first-team All-City and All-Tri-State, and was a McDonald’s All-American finalist.

Forbes’ high school achievements attracted the attention of a number of big-named colleges. However, the young forward decided to continue his academic and athletic career at the University of Virginia, where he continued to win recognition and acclaim.  His freshman year, Forbes played every game and, over the course of his college basketball career, repeatedly broke season high scoring records.

During Forbes’ sophomore year, Virginia coach Pete Gillen left the school and took a job at the University of Massachusetts.  Forbes, a loyal player, wished to continue playing under Gillen and transferred to the University of Massachusetts at the end of his sophomore year. Unfortunately, according to NCAA rules, Forbes was unable to play his junior year, as he was a transfer student.

His senior year, Forbes aided UMass in their Atlantic 10 title, which they had not won since the mid 90’s. He was brought up to the Preseason Atlantic 10 Third Team and named Player of the Year. By the end of his college career, combining University of Virginia and University of Massachusetts, Forbes had scored a total of 1,639 points.

Despite his success, Forbes was not chosen in the 2008 NBA Draft and instead played for a time in the NBA Development League with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the professional basketball team of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Only playing for a season, Forbes went abroad and spent the year playing for a number of European and South American teams. He returned to the US and the NBA in 2010, playing for the Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, and, ultimately, Toronto Raptors. 

In 2005, Forbes’s NBA dreams were jeopardized when he learned he had type 1 diabetes. Familiar with the disease due to his father’s diabetes struggle, Forbes knew how to change his life to ensure control. In a 2012 interview with Diabetes Forecast Magazine, Forbes stated, “I’ve learned to live with it and deal with it, and I’ve been able to play at a high level of basketball with it. I’ve always thought of it as a manageable disease.”

Forbes’s determination has made him a role model to many athletes with diabetes and he has used his influence to help young people, particularly athletes, learn to manage their diabetes health.  Most recently, he has created a camp for children with diabetes and has worked with the Canadian Diabetes Association to promote awareness and spread the important, life-saving skills he’s learned by dealing with his illness. According to the Toronto Star, Forbes stated, “You can do anything. Don’t let this be a crutch, don’t let this hold you back. It’s manageable.”

Find more athletes with diabetes.


1 – Diabetes Forecast. NBA Player Gary Forbes Scores on His Dream, (Accessed 4/10/12.)

2 – Toronto Toronto Raptor Gary Forbes refuses to let diabetes ruin his dream, (Accessed 4/11/12.)



Last Modified Date: November 28, 2012

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