If you’ve been on Twitter the past few days (and if not, congrats), a story about Charles Barkley’s unexpected friendship with a cat litter scientist from Iowa was likely shared on your timeline. Well, I’m here to inform you that reporter Shirley Wang’s story — “My Dad’s Friendship With Charles Barkley” — from NPR’s “Only a Game,” is just as good and heartwarming as everyone says, and that you should listen to it immediately.
In my case, I found the story over coffee on Sunday morning through a tweet by Seth Meyers — but as of now, the initial “Only a Game” post with the story has been RT’d nearly 40,000 times. I immediately clicked after reading the preview line about Barkley’s mother’s funeral: “Everybody’s, like, ‘Who’s the Asian dude over there?’ “ Barkley recalls. “I said, ‘That’s my boy, Lin.’” I had no idea that soon after, I would find myself on the couch in near tears, desperate to call my father to tell him I love him.
I don’t want to spoil anything because the story is just so worth it — again, listen here — but Wang masterfully tells the tale of her Chinese immigrant dad Lin’s connection with Barkley. The men have a movie-style meet-cute, which sparks an unexpected friendship between the basketball legend and one of his biggest fans. Barkley tells Wang in an interview, “Your dad is one of the happiest people I’ve ever met in my life. I’m not just saying that.”
The story has obviously gone viral — not only for its wonderful and honest reporting, but also because of people sharing their genuine reactions to the piece:
One person even sent Wang a photo on Twitter of the time he randomly met her father and Barkley in Atlanta.
But really, I cannot stress this enough: Please listen to this truly wonderful story. In an age where nearly everything seems to suck, it’s so refreshing to hear an absolutely touching story — even if it makes you sob.