Joel Embiid explains how his lion-killing story illustrates African stereotypes in America

  • pe-sports
  • November 12, 2016
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Joel Embiid has a lot of mythology about him for a 22-year-old, which isn’t surprising.

After all, his journey to the NBA from his home in Cameroon is in many ways a Hallmark movie-level American success tale—one punctuated with hilarious and clumsy cultural fumbling on both ends.

One of the most well-known stories of Embiid’s transition to America is the one about about him killing an African lion at the age of six to prove his manhood—a story Embiid now admits he might have fabricated to mess with wide-eyed Americans asking about his upbringing.

Embiid spoke to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski on a range of topics this week, including African stereotypes and that whole alleged lion-killing thing:

"Americans don’t really have any idea what’s going on in the world, especially us Africans. When they think about Africans, they think about us running around with lions and tigers and all those other animals. When I got to Kansas I kind of used that to my advantage, talking about how I killed a lion and that’s how I became a man. At six years old I had to go into the jungle and kill a lion and had to carry it on my back and carry it back to the village to show I’m a man. And they bought into it…I don’t know. It might be true or it might be false. I don’t know. But that’s the perception."

Embiid also spoke about his feelings on Donald Trump winning the election, and his view of his America since coming to the United States and experiencing it for himself.

"I always thought that the US was amazing and just a dream…I thought it was heaven. Coming here, you know, the U.S. is still nice. But it’s not like what I thought it was—shat it was going to be…With the election going on, Donald Trump just got elected. I  mean, I don’t usually get into politics, but the way he’s been acting, talking…about racism, or women…It’s just hard to understand why people elected him. It’s just like…I feel like racism isn’t over…It’s just a shame."

Embiid’s words follow up one of his all-time tweets—a one-liner from election night.


It’s hard and flawed, but democracy is, indeed, a process.

Dan is on Twitter, trusting the porpoise.