Bam Adebayo played a very crucial role in helping the Miami Heat make it to this season’s NBA finals as the basketball franchise was largely regarded as underdogs, even during the Eastern Conference playoffs.
With a long way to go in their 7-game series, Bam and his team coming out victorious against a Nikola Jokić-led Nuggets team would prove to be one of the biggest upsets in NBA history. As both teams battle it out for the championship, Face2Face Africa shares with you four facts you probably didn’t know about the Miami Heat Center.
His father is Nigerian
Adebayo’s mother is African-American while his father is a Nigerian from the Yoruba tribe. Born in Newark, New Jersey, the 25-year-old planned on visiting his late father’s homeland for the first time in 2020 to participate in the Basketball Without Borders camp. However, that did not come to fruition because of COVID-19.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Nigeria,” he told The Undefeated. “I always wanted to see the place. See what it’s like. I might go over there, and I might be some king that I don’t even know about. I might have a mansion over there that’s mine, and I don’t even know. So, I’m looking forward to going over there.”
“Because at the end of the day I’m half-Nigerian. But, I don’t want to say that and not know the history of my name, or where my tribe is.”
“Bam” is not his real name
Though he’s popularly known as Bam, the NBA All-Star player’s real name is Edrice Femi Adebayo. His mother gave him the nickname “Bam” as he was watching The Flintstones when he was a year old. His nickname is derived from Bamm-Bamm Rubble, a character in the animated sitcom. His mother is said to have referred to him by that name after he mimicked how the cartoon character had tossed a table.
He initially did not want to embrace his Nigerian roots
Bam said he never really talked to his father, John Adebayo, when he was alive. He told The Undefeated that his father became distant after his mother moved to North Carolina, adding that it was his half-brother who notified him about his father’s death in Nigeria.
He also revealed he initially did not want to embrace his Nigerian roots because his father was not really in his life during his childhood. “I feel like … my dad’s not in my life,” Adebayo said.
“I don’t want to learn about that part of my family. And, I had to grow out of that. And, it was tough for me, it was growing pains. Because, from 15 to younger, everybody has regular names like Williams, Bennett, you got all the names that sound normal. And, then you got the one kid that has Adebayo. Everybody’s like, ‘Oh, you’re African,’ and this, that and the third. And, coming from a small city, everybody looks at you differently.
“When I was younger, I never wanted it because I was like, ‘Man, he wasn’t in my life. Why do I have his last name?’”
He, however, said that changed once he got older. “Once I got older, it was kind of like, ‘Man, I got a beautiful last name. It rings well. It goes well with Bam,” he said. “Bam Adebayo clicks, it just sounds good going off the tongue. …
“I know that my last name means like born in the joyful time. Just thinking about that, it means something to me. I feel like it clicks with my personality and who I am.”
He once considered paying for the Nigerian men’s national basketball team
Though he won a gold medal with the United States men’s national basketball team in 2020, Bam initially considered playing for his father’s home country after he was initially cut from the USA Basketball team the year prior.
“I’m still thinking on it,” Bam told The Undefeated about representing Nigeria at the Olympics back then. “It’s still in the back of my mind. When we played in the regular season a lot of dudes see me, and give me a little elbow, like, ‘Man, Nigerian team looking kind of nice.’ ”
He loves the popular African dish “fufu”
The Miami Heat star loves the popular African dish, Fufu. Very popular in West Africa, fufu is a special meal made up of a mixture of different flavors, including cassava, cornmeal, green plantain, yam, and/or semolina.