Rubio Leaves Family With Life-Long Memory

Joe DiMaggio once said he always played his hardest each time he took the field, because he never knew when a kid might be in the stand watching him play for the first time. He wanted to make sure everyone saw him at his best.

I doubt Ricky Rubio was thinking about making a lifelong impact when he took the court Jan. 21 in Utah—he most likely approached that game like he does any other. But I can assure you what he left behind in Utah that night was not only a priceless moment for those who watched live in area or on YouTube as well as a special, life-long imprint on a young girl and her family who just so happened to be there that night. That night, he displayed the qualities of a professional athlete at his best.

Elisabeth White’s 4-year-old daughter, Starly, had never been to a basketball game before that night. The fact she saw the Timberwolves play in her first NBA game was completely by chance—Elisabeth said they’d been going through a difficult time and the tickets were a gift from people in the community.

Starly spent the first quarter being mesmerized by the Jazz Bear mascot, curiously trying to get his attention. Elisabeth said she told Starly to try and say hi if the bear came back.

“She’s a very determined little girl,” Elisabeth said.

Around the third quarter, the bear came back during at timeout. He put a wristband on Starly and brought her down the stairs toward the court. Before long, Starly had a basketball in her hands and Rubio decided to play catch with her during the stoppage of play.

“Everybody was like, ‘Wow, this never happens,’” Elisabeth said. “[They said,] ‘I come to all the games and I’ve never seen it happen. Everyone was pretty excited and cheering her on and cheering the whole situation. It was pretty cool.”

The cool thing about being a professional athlete is you have the power to make memories like that happen. Starly immediately became a Ricky Rubio fan that night, and she’ll probably never forget the experience if only because of the fact that her mom witness it, television cameras witnessed it and it will be immortalized on the internet forever.

Rubio took a moment when he didn’t need to, right in the middle of a game, and made a kid’s day. He immediately became her favorite player, and there’s a good chance he became others’ favorite player just because of that small act of kindness on the court.

Elisabeth said it didn’t take long to receive texts or to see her daughter on television. Then Facebook “blew up,” she said, and friends and acquaintances kept saying her kid is famous.

For Starly, the experience itself is the coolest part.

“She’s been telling everybody,” Elisabeth said. “Everything from the bear grabbing her to playing basketball with Ricky Rubio.”

Starly said she’s a Timberwolves fan now, and she wants to see another game. The best part of the night was playing catch with Rubio, and that he’s her favorite player now.

Such a simple act, but it made a big impact.

“I’ve been reading after the event, and the biggest comment everyone is writing is that’s not normal for an NBA player to do,” Elisabeth said. “So I think that built the excitement.”

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