The 25-year-old hasn't forgotten his roots, however, and in a moving column in the Denver Post this week, Badji appeals to non-soccer fans with the World Cup underway, which features his native Senegal in their second-ever World Cup tournament.
"This story is for the person who has not yet had the good fortune of being exposed to soccer on a local or international scale," Badji writes. "The person who doesn’t 'get' the game yet, or understand why people would wake up at all hours of the night to watch two countries they’ve never visited square off against one another. Or even the person who downright dislikes the game. That’s okay. We’re cool. I understand that just because it’s the world’s most popular sport doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. But before you go back to reading about the Broncos or the Rockies, I’d like to offer you something. A perspective. My perspective. I want to tell you why this tournament matters.
"Growing up in Dakar, Senegal, on the edge of poverty, soccer was the only thing my friends and I really had to look forward to. We played barefoot on dirt, using rocks as goals and rags covered in plastic bags as balls. I remember one day our 'ball' was in tatters and falling apart so my mom came out and gave us one of her kitchen cloths so that we could patch the ball back together and keep playing."
You can read Badji's full column over at the Denver Post.