Philadelphia 76ers rookie Joel Embiid was forced to miss the first two seasons of his NBA career because of a broken foot bone that resisted healing. During his two years on the sidelines, the usually gregarious Embiid described himself as a "vampire," living alone, rarely going out, staying awake all night and sleeping in the afternoons.
Embiid told SI's Lee Jenkins in a profile for The Crossover that he would also spend his time alone in his room crying as he prayed for his stubborn foot to heal.
"On the 40th floor of a luxury apartment building in downtown Philadelphia, Joel Embiid sits on the edge of his bed and prays for health. He used to cry when he prayed, and he is not even a crier, but he would flex his foot and remember his brother and feel the tears slick against this stubble. 'Why me?' he wondered. 'Why my family?' His parents were in Cameroon, grieving for one son and fretting about another. But as much as Embiid missed them, he could not bear to show his face back home until those prayers were answered."
After Embiid's first foot surgery, his 13-year-old brother Arthur was killed when a truck crashed into his schoolyard in Cameroon. While he and his parents mourned for Arthur, Embiid continued pushing through his rehab and eventually returned to the court this preseason, seemingly unhindered by his surgically repaired foot.
"And at the end of the day, he asks God and Adidas to protect his size-17s, because they’re all that can stop him."
Embiid, 22, will make his NBA regular season debut on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Read Jenkins's full story here.