Bam Adebayo: The Rise Of The Miami Heat’s Hottest Young Star
12.17.2020 – 57 Ocean
GOING ONE-ON-ONE WITH THE MIAMI HEAT’S HOTTEST RISING STAR, BAM ADEBAYO
By Laura Schreffler
BAM ADEBAYO DOESN’T NEED TO CLICK HIS SIZE 16 KICKS AND SAY, “THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME” THREE times to arrive at his favorite spot in the Magic City: more often than not, he’s already there. And by “there” we mean his couch. The Miami Heat’s hottest young rising star is a bona fide homebody.
But he comes by it honestly. “Where I’m from, in the middle of the country, there were no clubs or parties. You had to make your own fun. [You were limited to] sitting in the house or going outside,” Adebayo explains. He typically chose the first option while waiting for his single mother, Marilyn Blount, to come home from an all-day shift at the Acre Station Meat Farm in Little Washington, N.C., where she earned $12,000 a year as a cashier. “My mom and I would just kind of hang out at the house, and now that’s all I want to do,” he says.
His rented Miami digs, on the 48th floor of a downtown high-rise, are a far cry from the single-wide trailer of his youth. He finally has room to breathe; his bachelor pad has all of the necessary space and then some to accommodate his towering 6’9” frame. And because his mother lives in the same building, a mere 43 floors down — and still frequently does his laundry — he really does have all his creature comforts in one place. It’s understandable that he’d be loath to leave.
For the record, the newly minted All-Star is far from a recluse. He’s 23; it’s almost his civic duty to indulge in the hedonistic delights that Miami offers. He most certainly isn’t in North Carolina anymore.
For one of the city’s most recognizable and feted residents, it’s likely that just about any and every door is wide open. But that doesn’t mean he has to step behind the curtain. Bam splashes out on a very small scale: a special steak dinner at Prime 112, or, more frequently, a “quality” waffle and mango smoothie at midtown eatery Angelina’s or a “calm situation” at Tap 42.
“[I was raised] to be laid-back,” he explains. “If I have friends in town visiting, we’ll go get dinner, but if I’m just by myself, I’m at the house, watching random TV shows. Right now I’m into this thing on Disney+, Brain Games [an Emmy-nominated show featuring games and experiments designed to mess with your mind]. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s [actually] pretty cool. I’m [also] starting to learn to play chess. I said, ‘I’m going to learn to play chess, because I want to win.’”
NBA, and, yes, an anomaly. Where most young players are flaunting their multimillion-dollar contracts at Joia Beach, KYU, Swan, Papi Steak and Komodo, dropping G’s on flashy cars, bling and expensive timepieces, Adebayo is cut from different cloth. He’s at home, playing mind games and doing crossword puzzles, quietly explaining that his first big purchase after signing with the Heat was a leased Range Rover because it was “too early” for him to commit to anything more expensive.
It would seem that he’s cautious about his newfound wealth, as if someone might snatch it away at any moment, but really, this is who he is: a kid who was raised without, but, now that he has, remains unpretentious. On his nightstand there’s a framed picture of the trailer he grew up in, engraved with the words “Never forget where you came from, and never lose sight of where you are going,” a reminder to stay that way.