Domantas Sabonis. Photo: Augustas Didžgalvis via Wikimedia Commons
Lithuanian-American NBA All-Star Domantas Sabonis, who currently plays for the Sacramento Kings, is in the process of converting to Judaism, his Jewish wife revealed in a recent interview with JWeekly.
“We really haven’t talked about it [publicly]. He loves [Judaism] and really wants to be a part of it,” Shashana Sabonis told the Jewish publication about her husband. The couple had a Jewish wedding in August 2021 and have a one-year-old son named Tiger. Shashana, who is pregnant with their second child, added that Domantas, 26, regularly does lessons on Zoom to learn about Judaism with Rabbi Erez Sherman from Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.
“After [he had] a triple-double against the Houston Rockets, I get a text, like, ‘Hey can we find time to learn?’ I’m like, you’re for real,” said the rabbi, who also hosts the sports podcast Rabbi on the Sidelines. “He’s always asking questions. He keeps kosher, and when he’s in Vilnius, he’s going to the kosher butchers to get chicken.”
Shashana also told JWeekly that while Domantas is serious about converting, his NBA career makes it difficult for him to keep all the laws of Judaism. She explained, “he has to fly and he has to do those things, but he’s continuing his learning. We keep Passover, we keep Shabbat. We don’t drive, and we do Shabbat dinner every week.”
The Sabonis’ also have a close relationship with Rabbi Mendy Cohen of Chabad of Sacramento. The rabbi put mezuzahs up at their house and recited the Megillah for them on Purim after the Kings played earlier that night, JWeekly reported. Domantas attended the Chabad’s Purim party this year, where he signed autographs, and in December he sponsored a donut giveaway at a Kings home game in honor of Hanukkah.
Shashana, who grew up in Los Angeles, said her husband is thankful for the support the Jewish community has shown him. She said, “people that follow me [on social media] see how we do the holidays and Shabbat, and I think it’s really fun for the Jewish community to see that representation in basketball.”
Domantas was drafted in 2016 and previously played for the Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder before signing with the Sacramento Kings. The 7’1′ athlete is the son of NBA Hall of Famer and legendary center Arvydas Sabonis, who played for the Portland Trail Blazers.