In an interview published on Dec. 2 in the Miami Herald, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra spoke with admiration about his player Chris Silva, who in 2012 left Gabon in Africa to play basketball in the United States.
In that same article, Silva also talked about coming to the States by himself, just days before his 16th birthday, and how challenging it has been at times. He hasn’t seen his mom and family in three years and has only seen them once in the past seven years.
“That must be so scary,” said Spoelstra, who admitted to not knowing the 23-year-old Silva’s story before he joined the Heat this season.
“Coming to a new country as a high school student, not knowing the language, not knowing really anything about where you’re going and being dropped off and then having to have the grit and resourcefulness to make it happen without going back,” added the head coach. “Once you learn his story, you want to even do more for him and help him on this journey.”
And while Spoelstra is helping Silva with his career journey, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, NBA Africa, and others helped his mother Carine Minkoue Obame with a physical journey to the United States.
Obame traveled 18 hours and 6,300 miles to see her son at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Friday, a little before the Heat took on the Indiana Pacers. The Heat shared a video of the reunion afterward, which many said they were extremely touched by.
“Merry Christmas, brother,” Spoelstra told Silva, as his mother walked toward him.
“That’s my mom,” he tearfully replied, as both of them hugged.
Later in the clip, Silva talked about what seeing his mother meant to him.
“Thank you NBA Africa for this amazing surprise,” he said. “This goes right to my heart and has made this holiday special to me.”
“Most beautiful thoughtful gesture of all times,” someone tweeted about the video afterward.
“This is bigger than basketball. Thank God for this moment. I’m literally in tears,” tweeted someone else.