Joakim Simon Noah was born on February 25, 1985 in New York City. As a youngster in France, moving to Paris when he was just three-years old, Noah began to fall in love with sports and in particular basketball. As Noah is quick to note, he comes from a somewhat unique background, in which both sports and the fine arts are equals. To say that he comes from a special family is quite an understatement. He was born with success in his genes. His father, Yannick Noah, a former ATP player and Roland Garros Champion, is currently one of the hottest pop stars in France. His mother, Cecilia Rodhe, won the Miss Sweden pageant in 1978 and his paternal grandfather, Zacharie Noah, was a professional soccer player in Cameroon. With his multi-national background Joakim sometimes refers to himself as the “African Viking” and feels comfortable almost anywhere in the world.
After turning 13, Noah and his mother and younger sister Yelena moved back to the Big Apple. The tall thin Noah, nicknamed “Stickman” by his mentor Tyrone Green, first attended the United Nations high school in New York City. By age 15, he transferred to Poly Prep, a private high school in Brooklyn with challenging academics and a strong basketball team coached by Billy McNally. Noah spent his sophomore and junior years there and took away the league championship both years he played. In his senior year, Noah played at The Lawrenceville School, in New Jersey, leading his team to the state title over St. Benedict’s.
Spending his college years as a star Gator at the University of Florida under Head Coach Billy Donovan, Noah helped lead the Gators to back-to-back NCAA National Championships in 2006 and 2007. He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2006 NCAA Tournament Final Four and earned Second Team All-America honors as a junior. He was also named First Team All-SEC his sophomore and junior seasons. Joakim’s dream of becoming an NBA player was finally realized on June 28, 2007 when the Chicago Bulls selected him in the first round of the NBA Draft with the number Nine overall pick. The growing all-star has most recently helped lead the Bulls to two consecutive playoff appearances the past two seasons. During the 2009-2010 season, Noah averaged a double-double with 10.7 points per game and 11.0 rebounds per game. Noah currently plays a key role as “the man in the middle,” night after night at the United Center on the west side of Chicago.
Beyond his success as an NBA star, Noah keeps life simple and unselfish, which stems from being raised as part of a close-knit family. His mother describes her son as a “warrior,”—one who is so focused on something and won’t stop until he gets there. Rodhe says that Noah was born into a very passionate environment, surrounded by sports and arts and has always been taught that if you want to be the best, you have to work hard at it. Following in his mother’s path and teachings, Joakim dedicates time and energy off the basketball court in giving back to the community. As a result, mother and son have developed their foundation, “The Noah’s Arc Foundation,” which unites the two passions of this extraordinary family: sports and art. And in keeping his mantra of simplicity, Noah says, “It’s important to be there for people. Making an impact and putting a smile on someone’s face is what’s it’s all about.”