Joel Embiid’s childhood ambition was to become a soccer (football) player. He even hoped to become president of Cameroon, his birthplace. Basketball was never in his plans because his father preferred that he play volleyball.
He began playing basketball at the age of 16, and in 2017, he signed a five-year contract with the Philadelphia 76ers worth up to $178 million, according to Forbes.
Embiid signed a $196 million contract deal with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2021. With no agents, the Cameroonian represented himself in negotiations with the Philadelphia 76ers, saving him up to 4% in agent fees, according to Forbes.
“First of all, according to the regulations, when the agent comes forward to negotiate a contract for the player, he must draw up to 4% of the commission from it. Embiid did not rely on an agent to come forward, and the money was saved,” a report by min.news further explained.
“I feel proud about it to have been able to negotiate my own deal and make some of the decisions and be really in control of my life,” Embiid said while acknowledging the help he has received from people around him.
“I [have] great people around me. One of my mentors is Micheal Ruben. He has really helped me a lot as far as learning the business is [concerned] and teaching me the right things.”
Aside from a $196 million contract extension with the Philadelphia 76ers, the NBA star signed a five-year footwear and apparel endorsement deal with Under Armour in 2018 and will receive a signature shoe in 2020.
He realized his dream of becoming an NBA All-Star in 2018 when he was named to the Eastern Conference starting lineup alongside LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics, DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors, and Greek-Nigerian star Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.
After several failed tries prior to becoming an NBA All-Star, he finally had his dream date with Rihanna. In a post-game interview following his All-Star selection, Rihanna said he was no longer interested when asked about her “terms and conditions” for the date. “She denied me back then,” he explained. There’s no reason to return to her.”
He added, “So I gotta move on to the next one. There’s a lot of pretty women out there, and I’m beautiful, so I gotta move on to the next one.”
Embiid, who was born in Yaounde, Cameroon, looked up to Nigerian NBA player Hakeem Olajuwon, who was the toast of the NBA at the time. Kobe Bryant also influenced him, and the Lakers became his favorite team.
“The journey from Cameroon to the USA, everything just happened so fast,” he told Forbes while touching on his fast rise in the NBA. “From starting to play Basketball at 16 and a couple of months later I get the opportunity to come to the state.”
He had never been away from his parents before moving to the state. His initial weeks in the state were difficult for him because of the language barrier, as he spoke primarily French. However, he convinced himself that he was in America for a reason and that he needed to embrace all forms of challenge and integrate as much as possible.