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Wenyen Gabriel surprises Uber driver with generosity

(Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports)

(Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports)

Wenyen Gabriel is down in the Orlando bubble as a member of the Portland Trailblazers, the ninth-place team in the Western Conference. Soon he and his Blazer teammates will try to overcome a 3.5-game deficit to sneak into the playoffs ahead of Memphis, the current eighth-seed if the playoffs were to start today.

In the meantime, Gabriel is chatting with the NBA media and today we learned a story of Gabriel’s kind gesture to an Uber driver he befriended over a lost wallet.

As the former Wildcat tells it, he left his wallet in an Uber and couldn’t get back in contact with the driver after the ride had ended. It was bugging Gabriel all day, even kept him up through his pregame nap.

Well on the other side of the problem, the driver, Jon Barnard, found Gabriel’s wallet and remembered where he had dropped the NBA player off. Barnard returned the wallet because he is a good person, but wouldn’t accept money from Gabriel for doing the right thing. Eventually he agreed to take $100, but Gabriel’s reward became a two-parter once coronavirus hit:

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

Barnard can finish the story.

“The rest of the story is that Wenyen deposited $2,500 in my personal account,” Barnard said. “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.

“I think the Trail Blazers should know about it.

“What makes it more special to me is that Wenyen is not one of the super-high paid guys on the team. But he still helped me.

“Number 35, I’ll be a fan forever.”

Gabriel was hesitant to discuss the story because he didn’t want the publicity from it, the story says. He deserves the publicity and you can read more about it right here from Dwight Jaynes over at NBC Sports.

When basketball gets going again, Gabriel has an opportunity to play some meaningful minutes off the Portland bench. Trevor Ariza opted out of the trip to Orlando, leaving open 33 minutes per game, and Gabriel is in the group of wings who will replace him.

Portland’s first game is July 31 against Memphis, so it’s a big one.


Article written by Drew Franklin

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

4 Comments for Wenyen Gabriel surprises Uber driver with generosity

  1. RealCatsFan
    4:03 pm July 14, 2020 Permalink

    I have always really liked Wenyen. I wish he had hung around for one more year, not just selfishly as a UK fan, but because I thought he is a quality human being and I loved having him on the team. This just underlines that.

  2. Bluemister
    4:53 pm July 14, 2020 Permalink

    Thank you for this uplifting story. We need that right now. Wenyen, “keep being a light”!

  3. Cousins Fake Tooth
    5:58 pm July 14, 2020 Permalink

    Good gesture, but I would remove dudes name. I do Uber/Lyft, and we are not allowed (but do anyways) to accept anything other than what was given on the Uber/Lyft app itself, which is capped at $100 for a tip I believe, and $300 total max ride.

    • Cousins Fake Tooth
      5:59 pm July 14, 2020 Permalink

      Just trying to make sure dude doesn’t get deactivated, because Uber are pricks.