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Arab Americans

Rony Seikaly

Rony Seikaly

Ronald Fred “Rony” Seikaly (Arabic: رونالد ﺼيقلي‎‎, born May 10, 1965) is a Lebanese-born American retired professional basketball player. Considered one of the top college players from Syracuse Orange men’s basketball program, Seikaly’s stellar offense and defense placed him among the school’s all-time leaders in rebounds, points and blocks, while earning several nationally recognized awards and honors. His number 4 has been retired and raised to the rafters of the Carrier Dome.

Drafted into the National Basketball Association (NBA) by the Miami Heat with the 9th pick of the 1988 draft and the first ever pick for the Heat, Seikaly became one of the team’s earliest franchise players as he ranked among the team’s top offensive and defensive contributors–winning NBA player of the week twice–and also amassing many of the team’s records (of which some are still standing). Seikaly earned the 1990 NBA Most Improved Player Award and later played for the Golden State Warriors, Orlando Magic and New Jersey Nets and internationally in Spain with FC Barcelona. He was also part of the United States national basketball team during the 1986 FIBA World Championship, winning gold. After his retirement from basketball, Seikaly became a real estate developer and fulfilled his passion in electronic music as a producer and DJ.

Seikaly was born in Beirut, Lebanon. As a young child, Rony moved from Beirut to Greece, where he spent the rest of his youth.

He attended and graduated from the American School, also known as ACS Athens. In addition to playing basketball, he also excelled in many different sports including volleyball, soccer, and track & field.

After being scouted by Panathinaikos player Takis Koroneos, Seikaly was selected to join Panathinaikos’ men’s senior team, and played with them in a tournament in Cyprus.

In 1984, Seikaly moved from Greece to the United States and began attending Syracuse University in central New York, where he played college basketball. He played center for the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team. He led his Syracuse team to the 1987 NCAA Tournament championship finals against the Indiana Hoosiers during his junior year, after averaging 22 points and 11 rebounds per game throughout the tournament. He was an All-American, and was also named to the John R. Wooden All-American Team. He graduated from Syracuse as the school’s all-time leading rebounder, second in school history in blocked shots, and fourth in school history in scoring. At the time, he was only the second player to record 1,000 points and rebounds during his tenure at Syracuse. He was chosen on the Orange’s All Century Team, and his number 4 jersey has been retired and raised to the rafters at the Carrier Dome.

Miami Heat (1988–1994)

Seikaly was taken by the expansion team Miami Heat with the 9th pick in the first round of the 1988 NBA draft. As well as being the franchise’s first ever college draft pick, Seikaly became the first player born in Lebanon to compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Before playing in the NBA with the Miami Heat, Seikaly was offered a contract by the Greek Basket League team AEK Athens, but he turned it down, and opted to sign with the Heat instead.

The rookie center quickly emerged not only as a pivotal player within the team, but also among the league’s top centers. In his second season, he led the Heat in points (16.6), rebounds (10.4) and blocks (1.7) while placing sixth in the league in rebounding. At the conclusion of the season he was awarded with the NBA Most Improved Player Award.

In the 1990–91 season, Seikaly increased his rebounding average to 11.1 rebounds per game while maintaining his 16 points per game average and then they acquired other young players to serve as scoring options such as Glen Rice and Steve Smith. In the 1991–92 season, Seikaly again averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds (6th in the league) as the Heat, bolstered by his play and Rice’s scoring, led the team to 38 wins and the first playoff berth for the franchise. Despite the breakthrough, Miami was no match for the defending champions, the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls, who swept the Heat in three games. For the series against the Bulls, Seikaly averaged 19.1 points with 9.2 rebounds.

Seikaly increased his scoring to 17.3 and once again averaged 11.8 rebounds a game (8th in the league) during the 1992–93 season. He managed to win the NBA player of the week after averaging 30 points and 20 Rebounds for the week of March 7. The following season featured increased scoring by Rice and Smith, and Seikaly averaged 15.1 points a game for third on the team while leading the team in rebounds with 10.3 rebounds per game. The Heat won 42 games, good enough to make the playoffs. Facing off against the Atlanta Hawks in the first round.

Seikaly’s career with Miami saw him setting numerous team records, including blocks (8), rebounds (34) and double–doubles. During his run with the Heat, he had the nickname “The Spin Doctor”, due to his trademark low-post spin moves. On November 2, 1994, Seikaly was traded to the Golden State Warriors.

His career highs with the Heat are 40 points, 34 rebounds, 8 blocks, 8 assists, and 5 steals.

Golden State Warriors (1994–1996)

Seikaly only played in 36 games during the 1994–95 season, but started in all but one of those appearances averaging 12 points and 7 rebounds per game for the Warriors who were decimated by injuries. He would go on to start in 60 of 64 games in the 95–96 season, averaging 12 points and 7.8 rebounds, but the Warriors once again were plagued by injuries and could not reach the playoffs. In November 1996, he was once again traded, this time to the Orlando Magic.

Orlando Magic (1996–1998)

The Magic had been a dominant Eastern Conference team, but lost superstar center Shaquille O’Neal, and Seikaly was brought in to fill the void. Despite playing alongside other veteran scorers such as Horace Grant, Nick Anderson and Dennis Scott, Seikaly boosted his scoring to 17.3 points per game for second on the team behind All-Star Penny Hardaway, and led the team in rebounds per game (9.5) and blocks (1.4). The Magic won 45 games and entered the playoffs as the 7th seed in the conference, facing off against Seikaly’s old team in Miami, who now featured an All-Star center Alonzo Mourning. Despite taking a 2–0 lead in Miami, the Magic responded with two wins at home to tie the series at 2 games apiece, but injuries forced Seikaly out of the 4th and deciding 5th games in which the Heat won to advance.

Seikaly would start in 47 games to start the 1997–98 season, but in February he was traded to the New Jersey Nets. He averaged 16 points and 9.5 rebounds per game in his stint in Orlando.

New Jersey Nets (1998–1999)

Following his arrival in New Jersey, Seikaly had a career ending foot injury and only played in 9 games to finish the 1997–98 season, and would only play in 9 games of the lockout shortened 1998–99 season before retiring from the league. He holds NBA career averages of 14.7 points per game, 9.5 rebounds per game, and 1.3 blocks per game.

Music career

Seikaly, an avid lover of music, started DJing on and off at the age of 14 while living in Athens. After retiring from basketball, he developed his passion into a musical career as a professional DJ and a music producer. “Sports will always be my love. But music will always be my passion,” he said. He also had his own studio in Florida. Seikaly has been producing and working in the genres of house, deep house, tech house and techno. He has played in all the major clubs in the world including Ibiza, New York, Toronto, LA and Miami.

He has released many EPs including, House Calls in 2010 East West EP in 2012 and East West EP volume 2 in 2014, Holdin On in 2015 “Signs EP” in 2015 and The Sword EP” in 2016 “. In 2012, he released a full mix album titled Nervous Nitelife Presents Rony Seikaly and has singles released on Suara, Yoshitoshi, Nervous, Stereo, Subliminal Records and many more.

He has his own radio show on “Sirius/Xm” satellite radio called SugarFreeRadio which airs every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.


  • 2010: “Come with Me” (featuring Polina) (Subliminal Records)
  • 2010: “Let You Go” (featuring Polina) (Subliminal Records)
  • 2010: “Let You Go Part Two” (featuring Polina). Remix by Cedric Gervais (Subliminal Records)
  • 2011: “Take Me Higher” (Subliminal Records)
  • 2011: “The World Is Beautiful” (Subliminal Records)
  • 2011: “Personal Stereo” (Swing Records)
  • 2011: “Crazy Powder” (Nervous Inc)
  • 2012: “MILF” (Juicy Records)
  • 2012: “Funk The Munk” (Juicy Records)
  • 2012: “Mood That I Love” (Nervous Records)
  • 2012: “Desert Nights” (Nervous Records)
  • 2012: “Oh Yeah” (Swing Records)
  • 2012: “Perfect Match” (Swing Records)
  • 2012: “Illusion” (Nervous Records)
  • 2012: “Le Freak” (with Antranig) (Stereo Productions)
  • 2012: “Welcome to the Machine” (Nervous Inc.)
  • 2012: “Happy Trees” (Nervous Inc.)
  • 2013: “You Make Me Feel” (with Jean Claude Ades) (Be Crazy Music)
  • 2013: “Thanks for Everything” (Perfect Driver Music)
  • 2013: “Can You Hear Me” (Suara Records)
  • 2013: “TATOUS” (Nervous Records)
  • 2014: “Into me” (Be Crazy)
  • 2014: “Devotion” (Be Crazy)
  • 2014: “5htp” (Be Crazy)
  • 2015: “Groove Box” (Stereo Productions)
  • 2015: “Holdin On” (Yoshitoshi Records)
  • 2015: “Faces” (Yoshitoshi Records)
  • 2015: “Don’t Do That” (Xima Records)
  • 2015: “Do You Take Anything” (Xima Records)
  • 2015: “U Turn” (Xima Records)
  • 2016: “The Sword” (Yoshitoshi Records)
  • 2016: “All of A Sudden” (Yoshitoshi Records)
  • 2016: “Loyalty” (Yoshitoshi Records)
  • 2017: “Should I Stay” (Yoshitoshi Records)


  • 2011: “Fly Away” (In The Screen vs. Rony Seikaly feat. Craig David) (Erick Morillo, Harry Choo Choo Romero & José Nunez Mix)

Personal life

Seikaly speaks four languages fluently: English, Greek, Arabic, and French. During his NBA playing career, Seikaly would return to Greece during the summer off-season, to visit his friends and family members. Seikaly owns a villa in Mykonos, Greece, and he still vacations there.

When Magic Johnson returned to the NBA HIV-positive, and there was opposition to his inclusion in the league, because of his health status, Seikaly challenged him to a game of one-on-one, to show everyone that HIV is not contagious by touch.

Seikaly owns and runs a multi-million-dollar real estate investment company. He is also an investor in the South Beach, Miami, restaurants Quattro, Sosta, Solea, and Club Wall.

Seikaly was formerly married to Mexican super model Elsa Benítez, the 2001 and 2006 cover girl for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues. They divorced in 2005; they have a daughter, Mila.

Since July 2015, Seikaly has been married to Brazilian fashion blogger and model Martha Graeff, to whom he became engaged on the Greek island of Mykonos.


Seikaly is involved in many charities, such as the Miami Heat’s Corporate Education and “Shoot for the Stars” programs, and the Make A Wish Foundation. He also founded the Rony Seikaly Golf Tournament to benefit cystic fibrosis research.

Revenues from the sale of his 2012 album, Nervous Nitelife Presents Rony Seikaly, went to the Children’s Department at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Foundation in Miami.