As a young boy growing up, Joel Embiid’s dream was to become a soccer (football) player. He even dreamt of becoming the president of Cameroon, his country of origin. Basketball was never part of his plans mainly because his father wanted him to play volleyball.
However, he started playing basketball when he turned 16 years old and in 2017, he signed a five-year contract with the Philadelphia 76ers worth as much as $178 million, according to Forbes.
In 2021, Embiid successfully negotiated a $196 million contract extension with the Philadelphia 76ers. With no agents, the Cameroonian represented himself in the negotiations with the Philadelphia 76ers, and that spared him an agent’s commission of up to 4%, he told 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 negotiating a $196 million contract extension with the Philadelphia 76ers, the NBA star also signed a five-year footwear and apparel endorsement deal with Under Armour in 2018 and got a signature shoe in 2020.
In 2018, he fulfilled his dream of becoming an NBA-All star when he was named as an Eastern Conference starter 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.
This also saw him land his dream date with Rihanna after previous failed attempts prior to becoming an NBA-All Star. When asked about Rihanna’s “terms and conditions” for the date in a post-game interview after his All-Star selection, the Cameroon-born star said he was no longer interested. He said, “She denied me back then. There’s no reason to go back 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.”
Born in Yaounde, Cameroon, Embiid looked up to Nigerian NBA star Hakeem Olajuwon, who was then the toast of the NBA. He was also inspired by Kobe Bryant 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.”
Prior to coming to the state, he had never been away from his parents. His first weeks in the state were challenging for him due to the language barrier as he spoke mainly French. However, he psyched his mind that he was in America for a reason and so had to embrace all forms of challenge and try as much as possible to integrate.