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Former Wildcat Wenyen Gabriel reflects on heart-warming Uber trip

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Just two men showing that in the end generosity always wins.

Kansas State v Kentucky Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Wenyen Gabriel is preparing for a high-profile few months in Orlando as the NBA is set to restart.

With his current team, the Portland Trail Blazers, Gabriel has been given the chance to continue his basketball career. However, the former Wildcat hasn’t lost sight of his kindness while in the NBA.

That said, the full story of Gabriel’s Uber trip can be read on NBC Sports here.

The shortened version is that Jon Barnard, the Uber drive, found Gabriel’s wallet after dropping him off at his apartment.

It could’ve stopped there. Barnard didn’t have to return the wallet. Already struggling with bad knees due to osteoarthritis, Barnard probably didn’t think twice about doing the right thing.

He made the walk up to Gabriel’s apartment, one that couldn’t have been easy. It was described as a “long stairway.” He didn’t even want to accept the money that Gabriel initially offered despite likely needing it.

However, after valuing the conversation and building a strong connection which is typically rare among Uber drivers and there customers, Gabriel, who is far from the highest-paid player the Blazers, decided to go above and beyond for Barnard.

It wasn’t immediate though. It was when this pandemic hit that Gabriel knew he must do something.

“The coronavirus came after that and I knew he was an at-risk person. He was such a kind person that I believed in him. I didn’t want him driving an Uber anymore,” Gabriel said.

So what did he do? He decided to make it so Barnard didn’t have to drive.

“The rest of the story is that Wenyen deposited $2,500 in my personal account. He was not seeking any publicity. His gift has allowed me to not have to drive. In this time of unrest, I thought it would be a positive story,” Barnard told NBC Sports’ Dwight Jaynes.

Gabriel spread generosity, and it’s heart-warming to hear stories of players using their money and influence for good. Hopefully this story sparks others either telling theirs or creating their own.