There's nothing about my NBA journey that I would change -- the teams, the cities, the teammates, the fans have all helped me grow into the player and person that I've become. Every time I moved, I saw the bright side. Always, I saw opportunity.
Still, I want to be somewhere that I can call home. Finally, I can do that now: I'm a Philadelphia 76er.
As soon as I arrived from the LA Clippers in February, I could see the possibilities with this group of players, organization and city. We've got unfinished business, and I'm ready to commit to a long-term vision of bringing a title to Philadelphia. From the moment I arrived in Philadelphia, the city has embraced me. This is an incredible sports town, and it's hungry for an NBA title. So are the Sixers -- and so am I.
We had a talented group and made a great run all the way to Game 7 against the eventual NBA champions, the Toronto Raptors. We will always remember Kawhi Leonard's shot bouncing on the rim and, finally, falling through the net. It was a heartbreaking loss, the kind that motivates you to want to get back into the playoffs -- and go even further.
Basketball is more than our family business; it's our family passion. Both of my brothers will be playing for NBA teams in the Vegas Summer League. My brother Tyler will be playing for the Denver Nuggets' entry in the Las Vegas Summer League, and Terry will be playing for the 76ers there. My young sister, Tori, recently enrolled at St. Bonaventure University on a basketball scholarship. And my father, well, he's always been an important part of my life -- and my basketball career.
From the trade to the Sixers in February, through the regular season and playoffs and now on to free agency, this contract is a culmination of so much in my life and basketball career. It's also a new beginning.
From the University of Tennessee to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Orlando Magic, the Detroit Pistons to the Clippers and, now, the 76ers, I know this about life in the NBA: Doing what you love -- and helping others along the way -- is what will make you happy. Everything happens in the way that God planned for it to be done, and I trust and put my faith knowing that this will be a great five years.
You can't allow money to affect your happiness because that is never going to bring you joy. I have such an incredible support system, including my father, who also happens to be my agent.
When I was in Orlando, he talked me out of taking a four-year, $32 million contract extension because No. 1, he believed he could help me get more, and most of all, he believed I was worth much more. We waited a season, and sure enough, we signed a four-year, $64 million deal with the Magic. We discussed some numbers to stay with the Clippers, but we ultimately decided to wait until free agency -- and I think it worked out very well for us.
Listen, I hear what people say sometimes: They question having your dad as your agent. It works for us, though. My dad -- Torrel Harris of Unique Sports Management -- has supreme confidence in me, and this man cares more for me than anyone else in the world would care for me as a client. Our father-son relationship has never been affected by the business side of this.
As part of a new free-agent deal, one of my primary priorities remains with The Tobias Harris Fellowship, which is designed to help underserved students and teachers receive quality education through access, enrichment and advocacy.
We've had success with several of the communities in which I've lived, including my childhood home of Long Island, New York. The Fellowship is a global initiative focused on improving education. Wherever I am in the NBA -- and beyond in my life -- that's going to be a huge part of my inspiration.
We've got a game plan in place for the Fellowship headed into next year: We want to focus on improving reading and math proficiency scores, advocating for more teacher professional development resources and access to after-school enrichment activities. Our goal is to work hand-in-hand with teachers and students using innovative technology tools to advance school literacy. We want to expand our program beyond Orlando and New York to include Africa and Haiti in the future.
In every way, I am thrilled to be staying with the 76ers and getting to work on everything -- playing with my teammates again, impacting young people and, yes, bringing a championship back to Philadelphia. I can't wait to get started.