Home » Joel Embiid: Dominating the NBA and the boardroom

Joel Embiid: Dominating the NBA and the boardroom

Embiid's journey from Cameroon's courts to NBA glory and business success

by Adenike Adeodun

Joel Hans Embiid, born on March 16, 1994, is a celebrated Cameroonian professional basketball player who has made significant strides in the National Basketball Association (NBA) with the Philadelphia 76ers. Standing tall at 7 feet (2.1 meters), Embiid’s career is adorned with numerous accolades, including seven NBA All-Star selections, five inclusions in the All-NBA Team, three in the All-Defensive Team, and two NBA scoring championships. His exceptional performance culminated in being named the NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 2023, marking a pinnacle in his career.

Embiid’s journey began in a family with a military background, as the son of Thomas Embiid, a military officer, and his wife Christine. From a young age, he displayed a keen interest in sports, initially engaging in volleyball and soccer with aspirations of pursuing a professional volleyball career in Europe.  However, destiny had a different plan, steering him towards basketball at age 15. Inspired by Hakeem Olajuwon, a renowned NBA Hall of Fame center, he shaped his gameplay in Olajuwon’s likeness. His basketball talents were soon recognized by Luc Mbah a Moute, an NBA player and fellow Yaoundé native, at a basketball camp. Under Mbah a Moute’s guidance, Embiid embarked on a transformative journey to the United States at the age of 16, committed to honing his skills for a professional basketball career.

Embiid’s American educational and basketball journey commenced at Montverde Academy, Mbah a Moute’s alma mater. However, seeking more playing time, he transferred to The Rock School, a Christian academy in Gainesville, Florida. There, as a senior, he led the team to a stellar 33-4 record and a state championship, boasting an average of 13.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game.

His prowess on the court led him to the University of Kansas, where he played alongside notable teammate Andrew Wiggins. During the 2013–14 season, Embiid’s impact was undeniable, playing 28 games and averaging 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 2.6 blocks in 23.1 minutes per game. His defensive skills were particularly noteworthy, earning him the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award and a second-team All-Big 12 honor. However, his promising freshman year was marred by a stress fracture in his back in March 2014, sidelining him from the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments and Kansas’ exit in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Following a standout year of college basketball with the Kansas Jayhawks, he entered the 2014 NBA Draft and was selected as the third overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers on April 9, 2014, opting out of his remaining three years of college eligibility. He underwent surgery for a fractured navicular bone in his right foot two months after he was selected by the 76ers, sidelining him for an estimated four to six months. Despite this setback, his draft by the 76ers positioned him as the third player from Cameroon to enter the NBA, following Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje and Luc Mbah a Moute, and marked him as the highest-drafted Cameroonian player in NBA history.

On Aug. 26, 2014, Embiid formalized his commitment to the 76ers by signing his rookie contract, but the navicular bone fracture precluded his participation in the 2014–2015 season. A recovery setback was revealed on June 13, 2015, when a CT scan indicated insufficient healing. Further diminishing his prospects of playing was a second surgery on his right foot on Aug. 18, 2015, leading to his absence for the 2015–2016 season as well.

Embiid made his long-awaited return to the court on Oct. 4, 2016, in a preseason game against the Boston Celtics, where he contributed six points, four rebounds, and two blocks in 13 minutes, aiding in a 92-89 victory. His regular-season NBA debut came on Oct. 26, 2016, against the Oklahoma City Thunder, where, after over two years of waiting, he showcased a remarkable performance with 20 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks in 25 minutes, despite the team’s loss. Throughout the 2016–2017 season, Embiid scored a total of 133 points.

Recognition of his talent came quickly; on Jan. 23, he was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for his performances from Jan. 16 through Jan. 22. Shortly after, he was selected for the World Team at the 2017 Rising Stars Challenge. Despite playing only 31 games, he was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team at the season’s close.

On Oct. 10, 2017, Embiid secured a significant commitment from the 76ers, signing a five-year $148 million maximum contract extension with the potential to earn an additional $30 million for achieving specific performance milestones. That season, he achieved a personal best, scoring 46 points in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers—the highest by a Philadelphia player in 11 years—and became the first NBA player since Julius Erving in 1982 to record at least 40 points, seven assists, and seven blocks in a single game.

He continued to make his mark, signing a four-year, $196 million extension with the 76ers on Aug. 17, 2021. Despite missing nine games due to COVID-19, he made a triumphant return, scoring 42 points with 14 rebounds in his comeback game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. On Dec. 6, he demonstrated his scoring prowess with 43 points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists against the Charlotte Hornets.

His scoring achievements during the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 seasons were historical, as Embiid became the first center to lead the NBA in scoring since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000 and the first since Moses Malone in 1982 to average over 30 points per game, as well as the first foreign player to lead the league in scoring, underscoring his significant impact on the game.

Despite facing numerous injuries, he continues to shatter records and make history with the Philadelphia 76ers. He nicknamed himself “the Process,” echoing the rallying cry of 76ers fans from the Sam Hinkie era to “trust the process.” 

Amidst his demanding career in professional basketball, Embiid manages to allocate time for business endeavors and investments, showcasing his remarkable versatility. Billionaire Africa provides insights into his diverse business interests and investment portfolio below.


In 2022, Embiid broadened his investment horizons by acquiring a stake in Mitchell & Ness, a celebrated sports apparel company known for its dedication to vintage athletic wear. This investment not only extends Embiid’s portfolio beyond the confines of basketball but also aligns him with Fanatics, the forefront company in the world of licensed sports merchandise. Alongside Embiid, the list of investors in Mitchell & Ness reads like a who’s who of influential figures across sports and entertainment, including LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kevin Hart, Odell Beckham, Jr., Steve Stoute, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, CJ McCollum, Jay-Z, Meek Mill, and Lil Baby. This diverse group of investors highlights the brand’s significant appeal and Embiid’s savvy in aligning with a network of high-profile, like-minded entrepreneurs.


In 2023, Embiid embarked on a new venture, Miniature Géant, a production studio established in collaboration with The SpringHill Company, a media enterprise supported by LeBron James and Maverick Carter. Miniature Géant aims to craft narratives across various media platforms, including unscripted and scripted content, podcasts, and branded projects. The studio’s objective is to shed light on individuals who have carved out success through unconventional paths. A key initiative for Miniature Géant is its partnership with Meadowlark Media, founded by former ESPN president John Skipper, to develop a film adaptation of Sebastian Abbo’s 2018 novel, “The Away Game: The Epic Search for Soccer’s Next Superstars.” This novel tracks the journey of young African soccer talents scouted for a renowned academy, mirroring Embiid’s own recruitment from Cameroon to the American basketball scene. Embiid will take on an executive producer role for this project alongside Skipper and Deirdre Fenton.

Furthermore, Miniature Géant is preparing to launch a documentary detailing Embiid’s ascent to NBA fame, with Carter serving as co-executive producer. The studio’s debut documentary will delve into race and identity through the story of Memphis Depay, a Dutch footballer of mixed heritage. Additionally, discussions are underway with Cameroonian mixed martial artist Francis Ngannou, exploring opportunities beyond sports into entertainment.

Reflecting on this endeavor, Embiid shared his excitement and the personal significance of these projects: “Arriving in America at 16, shortly after beginning my basketball journey, my achievements today were built on resilience and hard work, visible to fans on the court. My life’s narrative is cinematic, and now I have the privilege to tell stories that will inspire and motivate youngsters globally to pursue their dreams. Partnering with The SpringHill Company is an incredible opportunity, and I look forward to bringing our visions to life.”


Embiid has astutely invested in Jackpot, an innovative company that is revolutionizing the online lottery ticket market. In 2022, the company revealed the successful closure of its Series A funding round, amassing $35 million, with significant contributions from leading figures in the sports industry who recognize the growing potential of online lottery sales. Embiid was among the notable investors endorsing the brand’s vision.

In discussing the essence of Jackpot’s service, co-founder and CEO for North America, Akshay Khanna, explained to CNBC, “Our platform fundamentally transforms the lottery experience by allowing customers to purchase lottery tickets seamlessly from the comfort of their own homes.” This statement underscores the convenience and innovative approach that Jackpot offers to the traditional lottery ticket purchasing process.

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