Klay Thompson surprises Bay Area teen with custom basketball wheelchair

Chris Alvarez Image
Thursday, March 23, 2023
Klay Thompson surprises Bay Area teen with custom wheelchair
Warriors' Klay Thompson and The Thompson Family Foundation surprised a Bay Area teen with a fully-customized basketball wheelchair.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Golden State Warriors superstar Klay Thompson understands adversity. He's taken the long road, overcoming not one, but two devastating season-ending injuries to ultimately climbing the mountain top and winning his fourth NBA championship last season. In 2017, Klay along with father Mychal, mother Julie, brothers Mychel and Trayce, started the Thompson Family Foundation with a goal of enriching the youth in both the United States and Bahamas through education and fitness.

Before a recent home game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Klay, along with his foundation, teamed up with the Challenged Athletes Foundation to change the life of Santa Rosa's Braulio Noriega.

"It was just time for him (Braulio) to have a new chair," said Alan Shanken board member from the Challenged Athletes Foundation. "Klay's team, our team, Challenged Athletes Foundation thought it would be a perfect time for him to get a new chair.

That chair, a fully customized basketball wheelchair, was presented by Klay minutes before tip-off before one of the biggest games of the season.

As he entered the Warriors media room, Klay walked in with the brand new chair and presented it to Noriega. Noriega who would turn 16 days after receiving his new wheelchair, was overcome with emotion.

"This is such an amazing moment," Noriega said. "Honestly coming to a Warriors game is such a cool thing and I get to meet Klay as well, and get a wheelchair presented by him. Just like so much emotion right now, I don't even know what to say."

After an autograph and some photos, Noriega put his new wheelchair to use. The very next day at the Warriors Basketball Academy in Oakland, he was already hooping in his brand new wheelchair.

"Our impact goes beyond basketball," Thompson said. "What the Thompson Family Foundation was able to do today for that young man gives me chills. It put everything in perspective, before I ran out of the tunnel, just how blessed I am to play this game and the impact I can have on the youth."

Teammate Stephen Curry and head coach Steve Kerr echoed Klay's sentiments.

"It's huge, it speaks to how blessed we are, the game we get to play gives you the platform to connect with people in all different walks of life." said Curry. "For him (Klay) to do it before the game (donate the wheelchair) and take a little bit of time, is a selfless act and not surprised Klay is that type of guy."

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"Klay has a huge heart, he's got great compassion and empathy for people," said Kerr. "He's very, very deep in terms of his emotion and his care for people so that story didn't surprise me."

When I asked Noriega how basketball changed his life, he replied, "So drastically. First of all, I've met so many great people, some of my closest friends just through basketball. Traveling through the country and then I get to meet Klay? That's, dude, sports are the best things that have come in my life."

To learn more about the Thompson Family Foundation, visit here.

To learn more about Challenged Athletes Foundation, visit here.

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