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Joel Embiid and Anne de Paula's relationship has been an unexpected love story.
In ESPN's May cover story on Thursday, Philadelphia 76ers center Embiid discussed his NBA career and his relationship with his girlfriend, model Anne de Paula.
The pair met at a New York City dinner in 2018 through a mutual friend. De Paula told the outlet they didn't even say much to each other and noted that she didn't even know he was a basketball player. But she said that night, rather than being the start of a relationship, began their "beautiful friendship."
The 26-year-old model told ESPN that they connected because they had a lot in common — they both love soccer, spoke French, and had hopes of starting a family one day.
"We FaceTimed every day for a while. ... He just has this personality where he wants to motivate you. His friends, his family and now with Arthur -- he pushes all of us to be the best of ourselves," she said. "That's the type of person you want to have around."
About two years later, the couple welcomed their first child together, Arthur, in September 2020. Embiid shared the news with photos on Instagram on his family, showing love to his girlfriend and revealing his excitement for more kids in the future.
"We are so blessed and fortunate to welcome our little boy in this family. First of 11 or more? Trying to convince her but I'm not winning so far. I'm just trying to build a soccer team but for real I'm so excited for the future and my life has a new meaning. Kudos to @annedepaula_ for being so strong and giving me the Greatest Gift our life can offer," he captioned the post.
In the ESPN profile, Embiid also talks about grappling with a bone bruise earlier this year, and having to sit out games — thus, hurting his changes at league MVP.
"I could get sad and mad about it, but I feel like everything that happens in my life happens for a reason," Embiid said. "And if the MVP wasn't supposed to be mine this year, I guess maybe it is not.
He continued, "But the positive that I also took away from it, is that maybe that's what keeps me healthy to make sure I'm ready for the playoffs. Because if I were to chase after the MVP, maybe I would have burnt out like two years ago."