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Bam Adebayo

Sport: Basketball

Born: July 18, 1997

Town: Newark

Edrice Adebayo was born July 18, 1997 in Newark. His mother Mariyln began calling him Bamm-Bamm as a toddler after he overturned a coffee table while watching an episode of The Flintstones. After his mother moved to Pinetown, North Carolina, his friends shortened it to Bam. Bam began playing ball with his pals on a portable rim rolled onto a neighborhood street. It was not an affluent neighborhood—Bam and his mom lived in a mobile home and she worked long hours at a nearby meat market to keep the lights on.

Bam was the biggest kid on the block. He hit 6’ around the age of 11 and stood 6’6” by the time he joined an organized AAU team, at the age of 13. He was already a fierce rebounder and shot blocker and developed his offensive skills with the Karolina Diamonds under coach Kevin Graves. Bam averaged 32.2 points a game as a junior at Northside High in Pinetown. An elite prospect, he transferred to High Point Christian Academy his senior year, where he could hone his skills against top-level talent. Bam was a solid student, making honor roll and joining the school’s poetry club.

Bam thrived against top competition. The team played the top schools in the east, where his rock-solid 6’10” enabled him to dominate, averaging 18.9 points and 13.0 rebounds a game. He was a McDonald’s All-American and North Carolina’s Player of the Year, as he led Brandon Clifford’s Cougars to the state championship game. Bam was heavily recruited despite the fact he would almost certainly be a one-and-done player. Among the schools he considered were Auburn, Kansas, N.C. State and Kentucky. He chose the Wildcats early in his senior season.

Prior to moving to Lexington, Bam spent the summer learning to play against players his own size. A power forward in high school, he often faced opponents half a foot shorter. Enter Rasheed Wallace, who worked out with Bam in Greensboro a couple of time a week, teaching him how to handle himself against player his own size (and larger). By the time Kentucky’s season opened, Bam was a monster finisher—but always finished with a smile.

Bam average 13 points and 8 rebounds a game for Kentucky, which finished the season 32–6 and secured a #5 national ranking. The Wildcats lost just two SEC games, finishing atop the conference standings. Bam was high-scorer against Valparaiso and Missouri during the regular season. Kentucky won the SEC Tournament and then beat Northern Kentucky, Wichita State and UCLA to reach the Elite 8 in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats faced UNC in an exciting battle that went down to the last second. The game was tied 73–73 when Luke May hit a jumper for the Tar Heels to win. UNC scored 12 straight points during a fourth-quarter run that cost Kentucky the game. N=Bam and fellow freshman star De’Aaron Fox cried in the locker room. It was certainly not the outcome Bam hoped for in his final college game. He missed all five of his second-half shots, including a dunk attempt, which was blocked.

In the NBA Draft, the Miami Heat selected Bam with the 14th overall pick. The Heat were a rebuilding club that had finished strong the previous season. Bam was a bench player for Miami his first two years in the league, building up his body and soaking up knowledge. He showed great promise as a rebounder, averaging 7.9 per game in 2018–19 despite playing no more than half of most games.

In 2019–20, Bam earned a starting role with the Heat and his game quickly came together. He was scoring, rebounding and distributing the ball when defenses collapsed around him. In a December win over the Hawks, he had 11 rebounds, 11 assists and 30 points for his first career triple-double. He had another one four days later in a win over the Mavericks in Dallas. Bam reached double-digits in assists three more times before the season went on hiatus, and also was named to the 2020 All-Star Game. The Heat, meanwhile, became one of the more formidable teams in the East, going 44–29 on the year. Bam was second on the club with 15.9 points per game and led the club with 10.2 rebounds per game. He also led Miami with 368 assists and 93 blocked shots. His 55.7 shooting percentage was also tops on the club.

Bam took his game up a notch on the bog stage of the NBA Playoffs. He upped his scoring and was a difference-maker in Miami's run to the conference finals and made a game-winning block on Jayson Tatum in the finals seconds of Game 1 to preserve a victory over the Celtics.


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