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Bobby Syvanthong

Bobby Syvanthong is a Lao-Khmu' professional basketball player from Richmond, California. He played in college for the University of Maine-Fort Kent and professionally in the Thai Basketball Super League with team Luang Prabang. He is the founder of the Bay Area Bullies basketball team.

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"Air Bobby"

2018: Forty-three years after thousands of refugees began leaving war-ravaged Laos to settle in new countries like the United States of America, their grandchildren would return to make history.  Bobby Syvanthong and Jose Nouchanthavong became the first known Lao and Khmu' Americans to play professional basketball when they signed with the Thai Basketball Super League (TBSL) to play for the team that represents their ancestral homeland.


Bobby Sythanvong was born in Richmond, California and a became star point guard at El Cerrito High School where he scored over 500 points, had 304 assists, 180 steals and 146 rebounds.  Bobby went on to play at Contra Costa Community College where he averaged 9 points per game before transferring to the University of Maine-Fort Kent (UMFK). 

During the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 seasons at UMFK he averaged 9.6 points per game for the Bengals.  UMFK coach Tom Bird told the Fiddle Head Focus, “Bobby was and still is one of the best players that has played for (UMFK). He changed the way we play here forever with his up-tempo style. I had no doubt Bobby would be successful in whatever he did and I hope he gets a shot on a team full-time somewhere in the near future.” 

After graduating from UMFK he went on to play professionally in the Thai Basketball Super League (TBSL) from 2018-2020.  The TBSL is made up of teams from several Southeast Asian countries and Bobby had the honor of representing his ancestral homeland of Laos on team Luang Prabang alongside fellow Lao American Jose Nopuchanthavong. Bobby and Jose became the first known Lao American professional basketball players in 2018 when they both entered the TBSL.  

With Bobby at point guard, Luang Prabang was able to take 3rd place for the first time in the Thailand National Basketball tournament.  Bobby was selected for the TBSL best point guard award after the 2019 season.   The covid pandemic disrupted the TBSL and other sports leagues globally and Bobby returned home to California after the 2020 season. 

Bobby currently lives in the San Francisco Bay area where he founded the traveling adult basketball team the Bay Area Bullies and the Bullyz Academy with his cousin Timmy Soyvira.  “It started with just close family and friends at one point. Now we’ve expanded by adding top talent from different cities and states,” said Bobby.  The Bullies have been known to dominate adult tournaments up and down the state of California.  “It's more than just basketball with us. We enjoy each other’s company and we like to have a great time,” said Bobby. 

About this Article

Information for this article is from The Fiddlehead Focus, UMFK, and interviews with Bobby Syvanthong.  A special thank you to Geebe Sorio for permission to use the amazing artwork

Last Updated: February 13, 2022

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