Two weeks after he was born, Wenyen Gabriel’s mother took him and his three siblings from Khartoum, Sudan, to Cairo, Egypt, to escape the violence of the South Sudanese Civil War. While his mother worked to provide for the family and help Wenyen’s father join them in Cairo, his seven-year-old brother became Gabriel’s primary caregiver.
Two years later, Gabriel and his family were granted asylum in the United States and moved to Manchester, New Hampshire. That’s where their US pursuit of happiness began. Twenty years later, Wenyen is playing in the NBA Playoffs against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
After going undrafted in 2018 and playing on a two-way contract, Gabriel got his first NBA contract this season. $1.4 million for one season is the minimum an NBA player can make, but the world from someone who started in Khartoum. We don’t know what kind of a player Gabriel will turn out to be, but we already know he is an impressive young man. Mike Breen has the story to prove it.
Gabriel was driving in an Uber and hit it off with the gentleman driving the car. As he left the vehicle, Wenyen realized he doesn’t have his wallet with him. He failed to get in touch with the driver but was pleasantly surprised when the gentleman showed up at his home to return the wallet.
When COVID-19 hit, we were all concerned about the wellbeing of our family and friends. Wenyen couldn’t stop thinking about that Uber driver. The man’s age put him in a high-risk group, and driving a lot of people around in a car isn’t the best way to minimize risk. In addition to that, he has a couple of knees wrecked by osteoarthritis – the result of cross country and basketball in high school and college
“He was thinking that the man shouldn’t be driving a car at his age with the pandemic, so he deposited $2500 in the gentleman’s Uber account so he wouldn’t have to drive during the pandemic. He didn’t tell anyone about it, but the driver was so overcome with the kindness of Wenyen Gabriel that he contacted one of the papers and said ‘people need to know what this young man did for me, I’ll be a fan for life’”Mike Breen
What a guy! Gabriel isn’t on a 5-year guaranteed contract. He is on a minimum that was converted from a two-way. His NBA career is far from secure, so in addition to worrying about loved ones, Gabriel has to focus on his job. Not to mention he is a member of the Trail Blazers who were fighting for the 8th spot and knew they were looking at every game in the bubble as if it was Game 7.
Despite all that, Gabriel had the compassion to think about an Uber driver he met once and did something meaningful to help him out. Somehow, I don’t doubt that this won’t be his last season in the NBA.