One of the NBA's biggest personalities just dropped an incredible piece on The Players' Tribune. In "It's Story Time," Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid illustrates his unbelievable journey to living a life that's "like a movie."
The piece begins with Embiid reflecting on his move to Florida from Cameroon at the age of 16. Back then, the emerging Sixers star had only played basketball for three months, "had no handle," and didn't know any English. His first day of practice went so poorly, he went back to his dorm and cried. But that emotional moment spurred a spirit of motivation within him. He resolved to get better, to show his teammates what he was made of—and that started with learning how to shoot the basketball.
The way he did that? YouTube, where he first thought of searching for general how-to's on good form and shooting threes. "Then the light bulb went off, man," Embiid writes. "I typed in the magic words. WHITE PEOPLE SHOOTING 3 POINTERS. Listen, I know it's a stereotype, but have you ever seen a normal, 30-year-old white guy shoot a three-pointer? That elbow is tucked, man. The knees are bent. The follow-through is perfect."
Embiid would watch video after video of white guys shooting. His research has clearly paid off; he's a career 33 percent three-point shooter, which is amazing for a big man, and his shot is only improving.
Embiid was a late bloomer. He writes that he didn't even watch an NBA game until the 2009 Finals. It's stunning to consider how quickly he came into his own.
The article includes another hysterical tidbit about Embiid partially learning English by listening to hip-hop—in particular, "Like You."
"I had started hearing some American hip-hop on the internet, and I'd be trying to sing the words to look cool, even though I didn't know any English," Embiid recalls. "I'd be walking around school singing that Lil' Bow Wow and Ciara song. Remember that? All I could say in English was like 'Hello, good morning,' and then 'I AIN'T NEVER HAD NOBODY DO ME LIKE YOU.'"