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Nerlens Being Nerlens: How He Made One Young Woman’s Dream Come True

Alexis Whitt was on her way out the door after another long shift at Friendly’s when she noticed a table of two looking around for service. Alexis had already been cut for the night at the Warminster, Pennsylvania restaurant, but the closing server was swamped with other tables so she offered to come back on the floor and lend a hand. It was a chance to make a few extra bucks on an otherwise slow night in June, she thought. And a few extra bucks would go a long way.

See, at the time, Alexis was working two jobs while paying her own way through cosmetology school. She was doing hair part-time at Regis Salon by day and waiting tables at Friendly’s by night, whenever she wasn’t in class. And if that wasn’t enough on her plate, things weren’t going so well in her home life and she was living in a homeless shelter in Germantown.

Needless to say, Alexis had fallen on hard times and she didn’t think twice about seizing the opportunity to make a little more cash. But what she didn’t know is it would lead to her lifelong dream coming true.


Sitting at that table, the one that hadn’t been greeted, was Nerlens Noel and a friend. They stopped in for a quick bite and were more than happy to see Alexis when she made her way over to take their order. The guys were very nice, given the initial slow service, but she had no idea she was waiting on Philadelphia’s prized 2013 NBA draft pick.

Sensing Alexis was unaware she had a superstar at her table, Nerlens’ friend asked her, “Have you ever met anyone famous?”

“No, but I’ve always wanted to meet one of the Backstreet Boys,” she told them.

That led to a lengthy conversation about Nerlens’ favorite music, Alexis’ undying love for Backstreet, and how she had been saving up money on the side to see them at an upcoming concert in Camden after missing their show the year before. She’s loved the boy band since she was little, originally favoring Brian in her youth while fantasizing she would one day marry Nick. Howie and A.J. have moved up in recent years, joining Brian as her favorites, while her feelings for Kevin haven’t been quite the same since he took a break from the group.

Again, she’s a huge fan.

Impressed by her work ethic, and her obsession with BSB, Nerlens decided he wanted to do something special for Alexis.

But it would wait.

He left Friendly’s that night without introducing himself as an NBA star or hinting that she may hear from him again. To Alexis, Nerlens was just the tall guy with tall hair who stopped by her restaurant and chatted with her about music on a slow night.

She would soon know him as much more than that.


It was the Monday before Backstreet’s “In A World Like This” summer tour stop in Camden and Alexis was walking to work from school when she answered a phone call from an unknown number. It was Nerlens’ friend from that night at Friendly’s, some three or four weeks earlier, and he had a little surprise.

“Nerlens wants to give you tickets and VIP passes for Saturday’s concert,” he told her.

She was ecstatic, as you can imagine. Her dream had come true when she least expected it. Nerlens and his friend got in contact with her manager, explained what they were doing and why they were doing it, and the manager helped them get ahold of her. It was a complete surprise.

And though she couldn’t find anyone to go with her, and she got separated from friends she met inside, Alexis attended her first Backstreet Boys concert and got to meet (and hug) her five favorite men.


“I never knew that someone would do something like that for me,” she told KSR. “Especially not someone who worked for the 76ers. I didn’t even know he worked for the 76ers until they called me.”

“It was an unexpected once in a lifetime experience and a dream come true.”

It was also yet another case of Nerlens being Nerlens.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

18 Comments for Nerlens Being Nerlens: How He Made One Young Woman’s Dream Come True

  1. Chris from Paducah
    9:38 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

    Love it. Nerlens will always hold a special place in our hearts at UK.

  2. Rei
    9:48 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

    This is amazing. I always love hearing stories like this.

  3. CJ
    9:55 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

    What a great human. Thanks for sharing!

  4. charlie warrior
    10:03 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

    another great deed by the “big flat-top guy”…. can’t help but love this fella

  5. Casper
    10:09 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

    Blonde or brunette? which one?

  6. iucansuckabiglue.....
    10:15 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

    Once a Wildcat… Always a Wildcat.

    Stay healthy Nerlens.

  7. Nate
    10:39 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

    Way to go Nerls!!! Keep making us proud!!!

  8. JeffJ
    10:53 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

    Damn that is an amazing story. Nerlens is an amazing ambassador and an even more amazing person.

  9. NN- #3 in your program,,,,,, #1 in BBN Hearts
    10:57 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

    That flat top feller is something,,,,,yes indeedy!!!!

    • VinD
      11:17 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

      Alto, you trying to pass out your instructional videos again?

  10. kybb
    11:08 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

    Awesome story.

  11. Jesus
    1:34 am August 6, 2014 Permalink

    Aren’t a couple of those guys UK fans?

    • jaxcats8503
      12:30 pm August 6, 2014 Permalink

      Yes. Both Brian and Kevin are from Kentucky and huge UK fans.

  12. BFrey
    5:45 am August 6, 2014 Permalink

    It’s easy to give a big tip. It’s cool to take time out of your day to make something happen. Very cool story.

  13. Bob Ed Thom
    11:30 am August 6, 2014 Permalink

    That is great to make someone’s dream come true. Way to go Nerlens.
    And that is great by some guy that works for the 76ers.
    Does he work in the Ticket Office or Concessions?
    That is just funny to me.

  14. DT in DC
    12:33 pm August 6, 2014 Permalink

    This story made me cry. The world needs more Nerlens.

  15. David
    1:32 pm August 6, 2014 Permalink

    kudos to Nerlens…but really??? Alexis is living in a homeless shelter and her dream is to see the BSB’s in concert???…guffaw…nice to see her priorities are in order…..for the same price as the tix and backstage passes, Nerlens could have set her up in a nice apartment…oh well…at least she will get to tell her “roommates” in the shelter all about her concert experiences…classic

    • CatsFanFrankfort
      2:39 pm August 6, 2014 Permalink

      Damn dude. Be more of an insensitive prick. Set her up in a nice apartment for like a month? And its not like she asked for this. What was she going to say? ‘No, Id rather not have the tickets; give me a month’s rent instead’? She will probably remember this for the rest of her life. Two jobs and in school; sounds like she should make her way soon enough.