Embiid opens up about fatherhood, how his son is motivating him


Joel Embiid kept a secret from most of the world last summer.

Part of why he was so cautious when the Sixers entered the NBA’s Disney World bubble, saying he "hated the idea" of resuming the season during the COVID-19 pandemic and even wearing a hazmat suit on the team’s flight to Orlando, is because his partner, Anne De Paula, was pregnant.

In September, the couple welcomed Arthur Embiid into the world.

Embiid’s first season as a dad has been his best yet, and he doesn’t think that’s a coincidence.

“He’s been great,” Embiid told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Marc Zumoff after the Sixers’ 118-111 win Wednesday night over the Hornets. “I’m kind of bummed about not being home every single day. I miss them a lot when I’m on the road, but it’s been great. I like to keep my life private, so I don’t want to talk too much about it, but it’s been an amazing experience. Just watching him grow every single day makes me better. I think that’s also part of me being better this year. 

“I want him to grow up and see his father be at the top of his game, the best in the game. I want him to see his father was a Hall of Famer and (won) titles, because I want him to be better than me. Just like my father growing up, I saw the success that he had. I wanted to be better than him. I’ve got to set the bar really high. I hope he’s able to be better than me.”

Embiid’s father, Thomas Embiid, is a colonel in the Cameroon military and was a professional handball player.

His son added another world-class performance Wednesday in Charlotte, scoring 34 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Back in training camp, Embiid brought up Arthur when asked what keeps him motivated and engaged. 

“… I just want to play for one city for the rest of my career,” he said. “This is where I want to be. I want to be able to make it happen and reward the city and the fans for the trust they had in me, especially after missing two years and everything that I’ve been through, and also starting a family here. 

“My son was born in Philly. That’s why I want to win so bad and I want to just reward the fans for the trust that they’ve had in this process.”

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