Joel Embiid told ESPN Radio on Thursday that winning the NBA Rookie of the Year Award would represent a huge step in lifting him out of the "bad place" he had reached while missing his first two seasons with the 76ers due to injury.

Speaking to ESPN Radio's Meet The All-Stars Show that will air Saturday at 5:30 p.m. ET, Embiid told hosts Marc Kestecher and Marc Stein: "The time that I missed, [those] two years that I missed, I went to such ... I was in a bad place. Coming back and having a chance to be the Rookie of the Year, I think it's going to pay for all the sacrifices that I made."

Expounding on an interview he gave Sports Illustrated on the subject early in the season, Embiid explained that enduring two season-ending foot surgeries in his two seasons -- combined with the death of his teenaged brother, Arthur, in a car crash in October 2014 -- nearly led him to leave the sport and return to his native Cameroon.

"I was such in a dark place, I wanted to quit basketball," Embiid told ESPN Radio. "I just wanted to go back home and just leave everything behind.

"But, you know, coming into [this] season, one thing I thought was just, 'Come and have fun.' It's all about having fun. So all the dark days that I had back then, for me now, I think it's my time to have fun."

Embiid told ESPN Radio that he's "hopeful" of returning to the Sixers' lineup after the All-Star break "if I'm asymptomatic." The 22-year-old has missed Philadelphia's past 11 games (and 14 out of 15 overall) due to a bone bruise in his left knee.