Thursday, May 04, 2023
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid became emotional when discussing how he's overcome adversity to become the second African-born player to be named the NBA's Most Valuable Player.
Embiid nearly quit basketball after his younger brother died in a car accident. The 76ers star missed the first two seasons of his career with a broken foot.
"I felt like it was kind of my fault because I left Cameroon, I left, you know, my family. I felt like I should have been there to do something," said Embiid, who hopes to inspire others with his story of perseverance.
"The probability of someone like me, you know, started playing basketball at 15, to get the chance to be the MVP of the league is, I'd say, negative-zero," he said.
"But, you know, improbable doesn't mean impossible."
Embiid, who is averaging a career-high 33.1 points per game, led the Sixers to their third straight Eastern Conference semi-final this year.
He produced an undeniable MVP campaign this time around, with 10.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists, beating out Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.
"The journey has been incredible. The grind has been incredible. It's been an honor to be up here and to win this award," Embiid said.
He is the second African to earn MVP honors after Nigerian-American Hakeem Olajuwon won for the 1993-1994 season.
"We don't have a lot of opportunities back in Africa in general to get to this point," Embiid said.
"But, you know, seeing me here, seeing the way I conduct myself, seeing the way I carry myself, I hope a lot of people can learn from it and know that anything is possible."