Both of Rich’s parents went to college here in the United States. His mother attended Indiana University and his father went to Kalamazoo University. Once their studies were completed, they returned to Burma to fulfill the required 5 years of work with the government to pay for their education.
At a time when the military was taking over, many families were disappearing at night or were jailed for their political beliefs. Rich’s father was the editor of a local newspaper and critical of the government. They lived with the constant fear that someone would take him away, never to be seen again.
When an opportunity opened up to come to the US, they jumped at the chance. Rich’s mother reached out to the teacher she lived with while she attend college. The teacher spoke to her church and they ended up sponsoring the Cho family.
When they left Burma, the government only allowed them to take $200 and a small suitcase of clothes. “If it wasn’t for the church in Indiana and my friend, we wouldn’t have been able to start,” shares Rich’s mother.
The congregation helped them with their transportation to the US, found housing, loaned them a car, provided pots and pans for their kitchen, as well as clothes for the children. They even helped Rich’s mother find a teaching job.
Life was not easy when they arrived. Simple things like operating the oven were a mystery for Rich’s mother. She also was taking care of four small children without the support of her extended family. Despite the hardships, they were very grateful for the support they received and the lack of fear in their lives now.
After several years, the Cho family moved to Federal Way, WA, where his father worked the night shift at 7 Eleven. His parents appreciated the good education that all of their children received here in the US.
Rich attended Washington State University and earned a degree in mechanical engineering. He worked at Boeing from 1990-1995. In 1995, Rich was hired as an intern for the Seattle SuperSonics while he worked on his law degree at Pepperdine University School of Law. He graduated from law school in 1997 and was hired by the SuperSonics as director of basketball affairs.
In 2000, Rich was promoted to assistant general manager. It was in 2004 when Rich took his first trip back to Burma.
In 2008, when the team left Seattle, he moved to Oklahoma City with them. In 2010, Rich was hired as the general manager of the Portland Trail Blazers — the first Asian American general manager in the NBA. In June 2011, he became the general manager of the Charlotte Bobcats.
Last August, Rich returned once again to Burma with the NBA and the State Department to conduct basketball clinics throughout the country.
Rich mentors Asian American law students and has been active with Asian American law student associations. He is an advisor to the Board of Directors of the USA Myanmar Chamber of Commerce. Rich is married to Julie and they have two daughters.