Bam Adebayo sporting the 2020-21 Miami Heat ViceVersa jersey
Miami Heat center Edrice Femi “Bam” Adebayo grew up in a North Carolina trailer with his single-parent mother. He keeps a photo of it in his locker to remind him of where he came from. And when the 23-year-old signed a $195 million five-year contract extension with the team in November, he gave his mom an amazing present to mark her 56th birthday just a few weeks later: a new home. “It is just a token of my appreciation,” he said afterward at a press conference for ESPN. “She’d always wanted that, and I was able to give it to her.
When the 6′ 9″, 255-pound son of a Nigerian father and a Black American mother first picked up a basketball, he couldn’t have imagined how far he’d go. Nicknamed for Bamm-Bamm Rubble of “The Flintstones” cartoon after turning over a coffee table as a baby, Adebayo started playing later
By high school, he had become a star, averaging 32 points and 21 rebounds per game as a junior. He was named a McDonald’s All-American player the following year.
A phenomenal basketball player and an even better role model, Adebayo gives back to the local community with annual Thanksgiving food drives and by distributing backpacks to kids returning to school each year.
Longtime trainer Kevin Graves has spoken of his friend’s generosity. “We got something we do called ‘raking’ (pronounced “racking”) that we do randomly probably every two weeks. It’s called R-A-K, rak, random acts of kindness. So we might just show up at Publix and pay for someone’s groceries. … Yeah, he’s been raking for three years straight,” Graves recently told CloseUp360.com.
Adebayo was born in Newark, New Jersey, and at age 7 moved to North Carolina, where he was raised by Marilyn Blount, who by then had become a single mother. In 2016 he chose to attend the University of Kentucky, where he played one season for the Wildcats before deciding to go pro. Adebayo was picked up by the Heat as the 14th pick in the 2017 NBA draft.
Since arriving in Miami, Adebayo has shown he can make a significant impact on and off the court. He was a huge part of the Heat’s success last season, making the NBA All-Star game and leading the team to the NBA Finals along with Jimmy Butler.
Off the court he established the Bam, Books & Brotherhood (BBB) Foundation serve the community. It focuses on providing support to single-parent families. The goal is to “change lives for single mothers while changing the future chances, choices and challenges for children,” according to the NBA Players Association, which recently hosted a kids’ basketball clinic in support of BBB, led by Adebayo.
Immediately after agreeing to his contract extension, Adebayo’s focus was back on what he could do for others. That same day he hosted his third annual Thanksgiving food drive in Liberty City. He secured enough donations to feed more than 1,750 people, as reported in the Sun Sentinel.
In addition to the food drives, Adebayo has held two annual back-to-school events, where he’s given backpacks to families in need. He’s even sent 500 backpacks to children back in his hometown.
“I believe now more than ever, we have to continue to give back, raise awareness and ask for the help of others in doing so – that’s a united front,” he told Local 10’s Will Manso. “All kids need sometimes is a little boost, to see that there is hope,” said Adebayo in an interview with The Sport of Philanthropy. “[I want] to help people in need and motivate young people to dream the way I was able to dream, and turn my dreams into an unbelievable ride and reality.”
This story was written for The Miami Times by Florida International University’s South Florida Media Network.