Joel Embiid's Journey From Cameroon To The NBA All-Star Game

ByNisshanth Perumalsamy

Published on Wed Jan 06 2021


4 min read

Joel Embiid's Journey From Cameroon To The NBA All-Star Game

Joel Embiid hit the genetic lottery. By the time he was 17 he was 6 foot 10 and was freakishly athletic. He was a candidate for the Cameroon National Volleyball team, and basketball was only an afterthought, but a man named Joe Touomou had other plans. Word had got around about the kid who was abnormally tall and agile on his feet. Joe Touomou, the first D1 basketball player out of Cameroon, saw the insane amount of potential that Embiid had. He even went down to see Embiid in person.

Shocked by Embid's stature, Joe invited Embiid to the Nba players, Luc Mbah a Moute's camp in Cameroon. Before the camp began, Embiid had a lot of work to do. Before this encounter, Embiid's basketball experience consisted of him going to the local park and imitating the late great Kobe Bryant's moves against the Magic in 2009. Every time he would shoot, he would yell "KOBE."

Due to this lack of experience, Embiid trained under Coach Moudio 3 months before camp. He had to sharpen up his skills as quickly as possible if he wanted any chance at taking this basketball pipe dream to the next level.

3 months later, it was finally time for Embiid to attend the camp he had worked so hard for. Embiid was anxious, but there was nothing he could do now. It was time for him to step up and show Luc Mbah a Moute that he deserves a shot. Unfortunately, Embiid's anxiousness got the better of him.

On day 1 of the camp, Joel Embid did not show up and his coach had noticed his unusual absence. The next morning, Coach Moudio, went to Embid's house and found him playing video games with his little brother. Making sure Embid did not miss another day of the camp, Coach Moudio escorted Embid personally.

Still anxious, it was time for Embid to go out and just play basketball. He had already missed a day, but it did not matter. In one play, a young Embid caught an off-target pass in the post and pulled off a Hakeem Olajuwon esque post-move. He did a quick dribble, then drop stepped past the defender, and exploded to the hoop. Luc Mbah a Moute was left in awe and even said that he knew people in the Nba that could not pull off that move.

After his performance at the camp, Embid got invited to the Basketball Without Borders Camp. He once again showed out and was sent to the US to play at the Montverde Academy in Florida, which is where Luc Mbah a Moute went just 8 years ago. When he was leaving Cameroon, Embid's little brother was devastated. He did not know when he would see his beloved older brother again, but Embid had to leave for a chance at a better life for his family.

Embid's rise to NBA superstardom was just starting here. When arriving at Montverde, Embid did not know a lick of English. The only words he knew were "Good Morning." He learned English by listening to comedians and rappers, but the day finally came where Embid stepped on the basketball court. At his first few practices, he made a complete fool of himself. He could not catch a ball, barely could dribble, and sometimes would miss layups. He was completely out of his element, and it would not help that his teammates would make fun of him constantly.

This is where Embid's high school coach, Kevin Boyle dropped a legendary quote, "'You laugh now, but in five years you are all going to go to Joel to borrow money because he's going to be rich."

Fast-forwarding a year, Embid had completely rounded out his game. He was a much more polished and explosive player. He had also grown to 7 feet tall, which definitely improved his odds. Scouts were pouring in from all around the nation to watch the explosive 7-foot teenager from Cameroon. While he was doing this, he would constantly communicate with his family back home. He would always tell them he was fine, even though he was desperately missing them.

Now it was finally time for Embid to pick a college that he wanted to attend. The good news, almost every school in the nation wanted Embid on their roster, but the bad news, Embid did not even know what the NCAA was. Thankfully, Embid had Luc Mbah a Moute to guide him through the whole process. In the end, he decided to go to Kansas where he would only spend one year.

Once again, Embid did not believe in himself in the beginning. He finds himself full of anxiety, just like Luc Mbah a Moute's camp a few years ago. After the first practice at Kansas, he went to the coach said, "I don't belong here." The coach was flabbergasted and told Embid, " "Are you kidding? You will be the No. 1 pick in the NBA in two years."

Embid did not believe him at first, but after a dominant freshman collegiate season, Embid entered the draft as a one and done prospect. The coach was a little off, but Embid was picked by the Philadelphia 76ers with the third pick in the draft and the rest is history.

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