The Miami Heat are revered for their ability to mold lesser-heralded young players into guys who can make an impact in the NBA. Currently, they’re trying to do that with Chris Silva, a rookie power forward out of South Carolina who went undrafted in the 2019 NBA Draft. Silva is on a two-way contract, but has appeared in 25 games off the bench this year.
Part of the reason Silva is still in the developmental stage of his career is that he’s relatively new to basketball — he came to the United States in 2012 from Gabon to play high school ball in New Jersey, then went to South Carolina for four years, where he was a productive big man who could rebound, protect the rim, and show flashes of a dangerous jumper. But doing this required him to leave his family when he was just 16, and in that time, the only time he’s seen them came when he returned home to renew his visa during his sophomore year of college.
All of this is to say that Silva has accomplished a lot in his short hoops career, even if it’s happened away from his loved ones. The Heat, along with the league, decided to briefly change that, and on Friday, Silva was surprised when his mother, Carine Minkoue Obame, following the team’s walkthrough prior to taking on the Indiana Pacers.
It’s been 3 years since @SilvaObame has seen his mother. Tonight they reunited and it was everything you could imagine and more.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) December 28, 2019
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said that Silva’s Christmas gift “has been in the works for about a month,” while the big man, unsurprisingly, was blown away by seeing his mom emerge from the tunnel at AmericanAirlines Arena.
“As a matter of fact, I talked to her like two days ago and she was still back home on Christmas,” Silva said of the surprise, according to Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. “We were just talking, catching up and all that. I saw right after the walkthrough, I saw her walking in and I couldn’t believe who it was. I thought I was seeing a ghost. After I realized it was her, I couldn’t help myself. I was emotional.
“This is a great league. For them to do something like that for me means a great deal. It shows the heart of the people running the league and NBA Africa. I just thank them, I’m grateful for them doing this.”
The Heat made her first NBA game one to remember, as Miami needed a game-winner with seven seconds left from Goran Dragic to beat the Pacers, 113-112. It was a big victory over a potential playoff foe, but for Silva, the biggest moment of the day came a few hours before tip.