Russell Westbrook surprises teen boy paralyzed in drive- by shooting
Russell Westbrook is well-known for his many charitable endeavors and devotion to community service, and on Monday he continued to show why he has earned such a glowing reputation by making the Christmas wish come true for a teenage boy dealing with heartbreaking tragedy.
The Oklahoma City Thunder superstar paid a surprise visit to Janneh, a 13-year-old boy from Oklahoma who was tragically paralyzed from the neck-down in June after he was struck by a bullet during a drive-by shooting while riding his bike.
Janneh apparently had only one wish for this Christmas season: To meet Westbrook.
That’s why it came as a huge surprise when Westbrook essentially showed up unannounced in the lobby at the Children’s Center Rehabilitation Center in Bethany, Okla., where Janneh has been undergoing numerous treatments and surgeries for six months.
It took awhile for the “starstruck” Janneh to warm up to the situation, but Westbrook’s playful banter over how the 13-year-old’s favorite player is LeBron James finally loosened him up.
“Russ had to do some of the talking to get him going, but once Janneh started getting comfortable, the smack talk started,” said Melissa Richey, director of communications at the facility, via ESPN. “It was really funny between the two of them. Russ was such a great sport and gave it to him back. He didn’t hold back with him. It was really fun to watch the two of them together.”
But what impressed Richey the most is how Westbrook eschewed the fanfare and photo-ops typical of such an encounter during the one-hour visit. She also credited the NBA star for taking the time to visit, even though he had another charity event planned in the evening.
“That’s something that, I think, made it even more special because you could tell it wasn’t a publicity stunt,” she said. “It was the kindness out of his own heart to take time out of his day, knowing he had another event that night, to take time to do that was really cool for us to see that.”